Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Do the Panthers have dissociative identity disorder? In two of the last three weeks, the Panthers have been laughable running the ball. 10 yards as a team against the Buccaneers and then only 60 against the Giants. It will be absolutely imperative for the run game to start clicking for the Panthers if they wish to have any chance against the Falcons.
Thankfully, even the Falcons have weaknesses and one of those is their run defense. Thus far, the Dirty Birds have surrendered 5 yards per carry to their opponents. The problem, however, is that when the Falcons get ahead, they force other teams to become one dimensional which helps them cover up this weakness and actually plays into their strength, a very opportunistic passing defense which leads the league in INTs. The end result has seen the Falcons holding teams to under 100 yards per game. The ability for the Panthers to run the ball is going to directly tied to their overall offensive efficiency as a whole. A close game means we will likely be able to exploit this weakness. If the Falcons go up two scores though, we might be in for another under 75 yard rushing game.
And we have seen this phenomenon ourselves. Against the Buccaneers, the Panthers gained a laughable 10 yards on the ground, total. Against the Giants, we only gained 60 yard total, despite the fact that DeAngelo Williams was gaining a relatively modest amount of yardage (4.5 ypc). Strange though it may be, it seems almost as though our entire offense hinges on whether or not Jonathan Stewart plays... It's as if when he is out of the line up, all semblance of balance goes out the window and there's really no excuse for that. That's nothing against Stewart, but he should not really be the cog that makes our offense click. He is merely another cog that you can use to make this machine do more... or at least he should be.
In the end, while I think from a personnel standpoint the Panthers hold an edge in the run game, I think the actual game situation will greatly favor the Falcons by forcing the Panthers to once again move away from a balanced offense.