2011 Season Panther Player Recap - RB Jonathan Stewart

Coming into the 2011 season there were many Panther fans wishing to see more of the Panthers power back with sprinter's speed. In many ways they got their wish. Coming off a bit of a down year yard per carry-wise (4.3 vs. 5.1 in 2009) and scoring-wise (2 vs.10 TDs) Stewart packed a lot of production into fewer rushes in 2011.

Stewart's career rushing totals:

Rushing

Year

Team

G

GS

Att

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

20+

1st

2008

Carolina Panthers

16

0

184

836

4.5

41

10

8

42

2009

Carolina Panthers

16

3

221

1133

5.1

67

10

11

54

2010

Carolina Panthers

14

7

178

770

4.3

48

2

5

32

2011

Carolina Panthers

16

3

142

761

5.4

32

4

6

47

TOTAL

62

13

725

3500

4.8

67

26

30

175

These numbers put Stewart at #25 in rushing in the NFL with 761 total yards on a career low 142 carries. Another positive: 1 fumble; Zero lost.

Yet fewer rushes did not mean fewer touches for Stewart in 2011. With new OC Rob Chudzinski emphasizing spreading the ball around Stewart was the recipient of a big increase in pass receptions:

Receiving

Year

Team

G

GS

Rec

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

20+

40+

1st

2008

Carolina Panthers

16

0

8

47

5.9

15

0

0

0

2

2009

Carolina Panthers

16

3

18

139

7.7

19

1

0

0

7

2010

Carolina Panthers

14

7

8

103

12.9

55

1

1

1

2

2011

Carolina Panthers

16

3

47

413

8.8

26

1

4

0

18

TOTAL

62

13

81

702

8.7

55

3

5

1

29

Stewart added another 413 yards on 42 receptions out of the backfield including 1 TD and 18 that went for first downs. This is exactly how we envisioned Stewart being used instead of simply a rotation 1st and 2nd down back. In fact, Stewart led the NFC South in RB play time this season:

Stewart Leads in Percent Play Time Among NFC South RBs:

Carolina's Jonathan Stewart led the division at 55.2 percent. Stewart was on the field for 577 of Carolina's 1,046 offensive plays. Atlanta's Michael Turner took part in 52.2 percent of his offense's plays. Turner was on the field for 588 of 1,127 snaps. Neither player was in the top 10 among the league's running backs. Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy led the league as he played on 81.1 percent of his team's snaps. There were a few other items of interest when it came to playing time for NFC South running backs. While Stewart led the division, his teammate, DeAngelo Williams, was third in the NFC South at 42.73 percent, just ahead of New Orleans' Darren Sproles 42.71 percent.

So you can see that if DeAngelo Williams wasn't in the game then Stewart was. As the season went we started seeing more and more formations where both RBs were in the line-up. Now that is a nightmare for opposing defenses in 3rd and short plays.

Additional Stats:

Looking at Football Outsiders stats for RBs, we see Stewart landing in the top 5 in the NFL in both of the key stats Defense-adjusted Yards above Replacement (DYAR) and Defense-adjusted Variance Over Average:

Rushing DYAR: #4 overall behind only McCoy, MJD & Lynch.

Rushing DVOA: #2 overall behind only Pierre Thomas (who barely made the 100 carry minimum with 110)

RB Receiving DYAR: #8 overall (behind Sproles, Rice, Matthews, Bush, Foster, C Clay, P Thomas)

RB Receiving DVOA: #17 Overall with a 77% catch rate

2011 Season Highlights:

Though Stewart only saw the end zone three times this season he wasn't without big or even controversial big plays:

  • Game 3 versus the Jaguars in the torrential downpour you might remember the long run that was called back because when Stewart essentially flipped over a defender but he was ruled down by contact. I still think there was no evidence he was down and should have been allowed.
  • Game 15 versus the Bucs, Stewart had his best game of the season with 88 yards rushing and an 11 yard TD reception on a pass out into the right flat.Stewart also had a 32 yard scamper down the left sideline as he got the edge thanks to a Steve Smith block. He also had one of his classic stiff arms to the face mask in this one as well.
  • Game 16 versus the Saints, Stewart breaks off a beauty of run right up the gut for 29 yards and a TD. Stewart looked like he was shot out of a cannon.

2012 Contract Status

Stewart is scheduled to count $1.3M towards the Panthers salary cap in 2012, the last year of his current deal. I fully expect the Panthers to re-sign him this offseason as he most certainly has to be in their immediate plans at RB. To let him go into the season without a new deal would send a mixed message to Stewart and may entice him to try his hand in free agency, something we do not want. Besides, with a franchise tag for RBs running just under $8M a year it's a no-brainer to get one done asap. Now if the Panthers do wait I don't think it means he is leaving but it sure would be easier to do it now rather than later.

2012 Fantasy Analysis via CBS Sports:

Stewart's season ends with 761 yards with four touchdowns on 142 carries along with 413 receiving yards and a touchdown catch on 47 receptions. That's not bad considering that he split reps with DeAngelo Williams all season long. Stewart will enter a contract year in 2012 and could be motivated to play well for a new deal. We could see him being an attractive pick between Rounds 6 and 7 in drafts as a No. 3 Fantasy RB, but his upside will be stunted by both Williams and Cam Newton stealing opportunities from him.

Yes, with Newton vulturing carries from both RBs their value should remain pretty steady though certainly elevated from last season low predictions. As always, if one or the other misses time then the other gets the carries and immediately becomes a #1 RB.

Smash-n-dash_celebrate_medium

via assets.sbnation.com

Nicknames:

For the Panther novice who might be reading please know Stewart has a number of nicknames, some well known and others specific to CSR. We might call him J-Stew, Beef Stew, Stewie or most famously 1/2 of Double Trouble with RB DeAngelo Williams being the other half.

So in summary though Stewart got fewer rushing carries in 2011 his touches and involvement in the offense went up dramatically as the Panthers used him more on 3rd downs. Stewart also set career highs in yards per rush (5.4), receptions (47) and receiving yards (413). There is no doubt Jonathan Stewart remains one of the top RBs in the NFL when you look at the complete package and what he brings to the offense. I'm sure of the DBs he has trucked over the last four seasons would agree. I look forward to another dynamic year from Stewart in 2012.

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