I've been harping about the getting the ball to Steve smith the past few weeks and when the Panther have tried to do that it's not really worked as well as in the past. The reason is probably a combination of things so I'm not going to say it falls on Smitty 100% as Newton has certainly struggled at critical times. The stats don't lie though. Smith is 14th in the NFL in receiving yards per game but it feels a lot worse. The reality is Smith is not far off of his remarkable 2011 comeback performance of last year. His 21 receptions for 388 yards translate to 67 catches for about 1,250 yards, about 10 catches and 150 yards short of 2011.
So I'm sticking with my Get Smitty the Ball mantra. Just please take the shots down field. Let's see if CB Brandon Carr was worth the money the Cowboys paid him.
The next topic has been much discussed here at CSR and that is the use of the running game and the 1-2 Double Trouble punch. I think the read option, though it has worked well at times and in certain situations, also limits the effectiveness of the running game by delaying the hand off to make the read. Quick hitters up the middle from a single back or I-formation are needed to take advantage of stunts and other gimmicks by the defensive line. The Panthers used to make hay off tackle and running the stretch play. The key though is to hit them quickly.
So the running game mantra needs to combine old and new school: Run a mixture of delays, reads and quick hitters. We need to run from different personnel grouping (at least the 11 & 12) as well and not show our hand by what TE is in the game (Hartsock vs Barnidge). We did that actually against the Seahawks on the 4th and 1 play and Hartsock was wide open! But I digress... The Panthers must use the run to set up the pass to make their play action work rather than hoping the defense struggles with the read option.
My 3rd mantra point is the run to pass ratio. While I agree the score of the game can dictate the ratio the inability to run the ball should not, as we saw in the Seahawks game (16/37). I also think designed QB runs should be in every game plan. When you have a QB like Newton you have to play to his strengths and one of them is most certainly as a runner. So barring an early big hole on the scoreboard the running ratio mantra needs to be 45-50% running plays versus the recent 30% we've seen.