Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera acknowledged in his Monday press conference that the offense his team ran against the Seattle Seahawks was too conservative. He made a point of saying that part of the problem was Cam Newton tucking and running the ball, but agreed with the notion that his team didn't take enough chances offensively. Luckily this isn't 2010, there are weapons and the answer is already on the roster.
With Matt Moore/Jimmy Clausen the Panthers had no hope. That isn't the case in 2013. There are ample offensive weapons, now it's about using them correctly. Mike Shula shouldn't have been afraid of the deep pass and switching that, paired with some outside running will change the face of the Panthers offensive heading into week two.
Fixing the pass
There is salience to the idea of not testing Seattle's talented secondary with deep passing, but against the Seahawks this idea became an epidemic. Six passes were thrown 10+ yards, while another 15 fell behind the line of scrimmage or just past it. This drop off was most prevalent in the second half, but there was no need to play more conservatively. Newton was having the majority of his passing success on 10+ yard throws and this needed to be pressed more.
Ted Ginn is a huge part of this and his under-utilization was a mistake. Ginn was on the field for just 14 passing snaps against the Seahawks, which is just a shade more than Mike Tolbert. The Panthers' fullback played a great game, but that's inconsequential when the team isn't moving the ball. Snaps could have been taken from a struggling Greg Olsen (who played all 52 offensive snaps) if they really wanted to keep Tolbert in the game, because there were holes in the secondary they didn't utilize.
Fixing the run
Not a lot needed to be 'fixed' from Sunday's performance, but there are things the Panthers can tweak entering this week's game against Buffalo. Edge running off right tackle needs to be emphasized more, something DeAngelo Williams wasn't able to do as the majority of his runs were called off right guard.
Chris Scott and Byron Bell were zeroes in the run game, but their lack of effectiveness was overshadowed by stellar run play from Jeff Byers, Mike Tolbert, Greg Olsen and Ben Hartsock -- all of whom had excellent days blocking on running downs.
Williams has always been a hot-cold runner who nets big gains or does nothing. This was typified against the Seahawks where almost half his yards came on three runs. These came off right guard (with Byers playing), right tackle (thanks to a Hartsock block) and his biggest play of the day was a 16-yard gain with Tolbert lead blocking. Obviously Williams deserves credit too, that's a moot point -- but he needs to be helped by not asking him to run at a wall. With the exception of these three runs he averaged 3.07 yards per carry, which isn't horrible but could be better.
Hammering the edges moves the focus away from the poor in-line guard play the Panthers suffer from and allows Williams to move in space, which he does much better than play the typical North-South game. Pair this with a healthy Amini Silatolu (who we know blocks better in space) and the big plays will start to branch out.
will should be okay
Here's the deal: If we can work this out then surely an NFL team can too. While there's no accounting for personal preference or ego, one would like to think the offensive staff can realize where their players' strengths are and tailor the game plan to that end.
Cam Newton showed that he can be a game manager if needed and while that was immensely encouraging he needs to be able to play his way. The way that won a championship at Auburn, the way that pushed the Green Bay Packers to their limit in 2011 and the way fans said "if only the defense was a little better" in 2012. Any day a defense holds Marshawn Lynch to under 50 yards rushing and gets a sack-fumble is a good day -- Cam should have been Cam and led the Panthers to a victory.
This is a new week and the Bills are there for the taking. Correcting these two offensive errors will pay huge dividends and get the Panthers back in the black.
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