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Carolina Panthers Film Analysis: The Shovel Option

Breaking down Christian McCaffrey’s first career touchdown.

The Carolina Panthers have had issues running the football on traditional run plays all year long. We saw these problems continue yesterday, as the Detroit Lions did an excellent job of stopping the Panthers on the ground, holding them to just 28 yards rushing. The Lions were able to stop the Panthers from effectively running the football because their interior linemen did a great job of clogging up the interior run lanes, while their edge defenders and linebackers stayed disciplined on the edge to prevent any cutbacks.

Fortunately for the Panthers, when their traditional run game struggles, they have the luxury of turning to the option run game with Cam Newton, who is arguably the most dangerous option quarterback in the entire NFL. The Panthers have been very conservative with their use of the option so far this season, because they’ve wanted to prevent Cam Newton from taking extra hits. However, it can still be a great way to complement the traditional run game when used as a change of pace option.

In the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Lions, we saw the Panthers use the shovel option to score a touchdown to tie the game up 10-10.

The shovel option is a variation of the triple option, and it is very popular in college football. On the Panthers variation, the shovel option starts out with a speed option look, built off a jet sweep motion from Curtis Samuel to further widen the defense.

The shovel option features a designed roll-out from Cam Newton, with Jonathan Stewart to Newton’s left, and Christian McCaffrey to Newton’s right. The offensive line will use a power blocking scheme up front.

The player being read is the outside linebacker, who plays contain on Newton.

The Lions have two defenders over the top to take away a potential pitch to Jonathan Stewart, so Newton makes the correct read and throws the shovel pass to McCaffrey inside.

McCaffrey runs almost untouched into the end zone for his first career touchdown.

The Carolina Panthers are slowly bringing back option elements into their offense every week. As Cam Newton continues to recover from his off-season shoulder surgery, it will be interesting to see how the Panthers balance their offense with traditional runs and option runs moving forward.

For more Panthers X’s and O’s, make sure to check out our Film Room, where we post multiple analysis pieces and breakdowns every week

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