As the NFL off-season progressed the writers at Football Outsiders continue to delve into the 2011 season, and dissect every last element of what made teams tick. Thus far we've looked at Cam Newton's effectiveness, just how much Brandon LaFell meant to the passing offense last year, as well as the Panthers's skill at both running, and defending play-action passes.
Last week FO took a look into the run offense of each team, not just on a player level, but a schematic one. With the NFL primarily becoming a passing league we're seeing more, and more teams run the ball from a single-back set, rather than with a fullback in the traditional I-formation. The New England Patriots, for example, ran the ball a stunning 91% without a fullback-- instead electing to use multiple tight-ends to give them more options. The same can be said for Detroit, who ran the ball 94% of the time as a single-back.
Among teams with a 4,000 yard passer the Carolina Panthers were far and away the most balanced running team schematically, as they utilized a single back 49% of the time, and utilized a two-back system on 51% of drives. One would think that the Panthers would be less inclined to put in a fullback with Cam Newton on the field-- ostensibly you're already getting an extra runner in Cam on the field, so a RB and a FB might be seen as overkill, however DeAngelo Williams and Jonthan Stewart still managed 5.4 yards per carry, the best in the NFL.
More after the jump
Based on what we'd seen from John Fox during his tenure in Carolina there was a wide assumption the Panthers had swung the other way, becoming a one-dimensional passing team, rather than a one-dimensional running team. The truth is that the Panthers were quite a diverse offense, as they passes 52% of downs, to 48% run plays.
That is what makes Rob Chudzinski's offense so difficult to deal with-- it's multi-faceted. Not only did the Panthers run and pass almost equally, but inside of those the Panthers had two TEs on the field as often as they didn't in the passing game, and ran the ball from the single back formation as often as they used a fullback. When you couple this diversity with a weapon like Mike Tolbert is should pave the way for the Carolina Panthers to have one of the most effective offenses in the NFL, provided they can stay healthy.