Panthers Position Review - Running Back

 

It's no secret that the biggest strength of the Panthers' offensive attack is the running game. Loaded with one of the best – if not the best – running back tandems in the league, the Panthers stick to their old-school philosophy of establish the run on offense and control the clock, and for the most part this strategy has paid off for John Fox and the Panthers. (In fact, if you were to go back in time and replace Jake Delhomme with any quarterback not named Derek Anderson or Jamarcus Russell, and if a few key components on the defensive side of the football could have stayed injury-free, the results of the 8-8 2009 campaign would be vastly different.)

 

Let's face it: DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are easily top ten running backs in the NFL, and fortunately for us Panthers fans, they both are on the same team – a team that loves to run the football – and both enjoy the other's success just as much as their own.

 

Take a look at the stats: 437 att/2250 yds/17 TD, first running back tandem in the history of the NFL to each rush for over 1100 yards (add in the fact that Williams only played in 13 games, and this becomes even more amazing).

 

Like I said before, it's no secret that the Panthers' strength is the running game, so let's take a look at the individuals who make up the running back corps after the jump.

 

DeAngelo Williams

 

2009 Stats:

 

G: 13 / GS: 13 / Rush Att: 216 / Rush Yds: 1117 / Rush TD: 7 / Y/Att: 5.2 / Y/Gm: 85.9 / Rec: 29 / Rec Yds: 252 / Y/Rec: 8.7 / Rec TD: 0

 

DeAngelo Williams is one half of Double-Trouble, the two-headed rushing monster that the Panthers are fortunate enough to have on game days. Williams was en route to another stellar season before a leg injury sidelined him for the final 3 games of the season. He should be ready to go this season, and shouldn't have any drawbacks from the injury that held him out of action towards the end of last year. There is a slight possibility that Fox switches roles between Williams and Stewart, because nothing is impossible, but I look for Williams to be the "starting RB" come September.

 

Chances of making roster: 100%

Chances of starting: 95%

 

Jonathan Stewart

 

2009 Stats:

 

G: 16 / GS: 13 / Rush Att: 221 / Rush Yds: 1133 / Rush TD: 10 / Y/Att: 5.1 / Y/Gm: 70.8 / Rec: 18 / Rec Yds: 139 / Y/Rec: 7.7 / Rec TD: 1

 

Jonathan Stewart is the other half of Double-Trouble, who comes in to run over defenders after Williams has dashed around them and caused the linebackers to lose most of their energy chasing him down the field, and Stewart relishes in his role as the hammer who drives home the final nail in the opposition's coffin on Sundays. Barring some form of alien abduction, Stewart is guaranteed a roster spot, and could take over the starting role if Fox decides to pound the ball down the defense's throat in the early part of the game, only to bring in Williams in the 2nd half to blaze by the defense en route to the end zone.

 

Chances of making roster: 100%

Chances of starting: 5%

 

 

Tyrell Sutton

 

2009 Stats:

 

G: 7 / GS: 1 / Rush Att: 12 / Rush Yds: 68 / Rush TD: 0 / Y/Att: 5.7 / Y/Gm: 9.7 / Rec: 6 / Rec Yds: 62 / Y/Rec: 10.3 / Rec TD: 0

 

Tyrell Sutton was a pleasant surprise last year when he was picked up off waivers from the Green Bay Packers, as he filled in nicely in limited duty at running back and fullback. Sutton has the tools to be a good backup running back, and he can be useful on the roster as the backup fullback, saving the team a roster spot with his double duty. Sutton also provides some depth in the return game, as he saw some action last year as a kick returner.

 

Unless Sutton was a one hit wonder (and I don't believe he was) I think he will make the roster. There is a chance that some kid will find his way on the roster during training camp and wow everyone while stealing Sutton's roster spot during preseason, because nothing is impossible (other than slamming shut a revolving door), but I don't expect that to happen, so I would say that Sutton is a safe bet to be on the roster after the final cuts have taken place.

 

Chances of making roster: 90%

Chances of starting: 2%

 

Mike Goodson

 

2009 Stats:

 

 

G: 8 / GS: 0 / Rush Att: 22 / Rush Yds: 49 / Rush TD: 0 / Y/Att: 2.2 / Y/Gm: 6.1 / Rec: 2 / Rec Yds: 15 / Y/Rec: 7.5 / Rec TD: 0

 

Save for a case of fumbilitis early in the year, Mike Goodson played fairly well in the limited action he saw. He has the tools to be a deadly weapon out of the backfield with his speed and pass catching ability, and could be seen as a valuable option in the slot in some offensive situations. He has elusive speed and could be used as a kick returner along with Sutton.

 

Chances of making roster: 85%

Chances of starting: 2%

 

Well folks, there you have it. There's really not much debate on the Williams/Stewart side of the equation (unless you guys want to discuss the option of starting Stewart and bringing in Williams as the change of pace back), but the Sutton/Goodson decision should be interesting fodder to keep us busy for the next few days or weeks.

 

If the Panthers were to cut one of the four backs during training camp, I would put my money on Goodson not making the roster, based on the fact that Sutton can play fullback in a pinch, and seems to be better suited for this squad.

 

Agree, disagree? What do you think?

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