Heading into Sunday’s matchup against the New England Patriots, the Carolina Panthers offense was facing an identity crisis. They failed to exploit the below average Saints defense last week. Therefore, it was imperative for Carolina to show progress versus the Patriots who were ranked last in defense according to DVOA.
Cam Newton looked like his 2015 self. The most welcome appearance was the reintroduction of the quarterback run concepts. It was tough to find a balance for Newton’s running due to his shoulder injury. With that said, Newton is one of the best short yardage runners in the league. It’s critical to utilize his entire skill set. Let’s revisit the game tape and introduce the run concepts.
The QB power is similar to a standard power run. The backside guard pulls across the formation to provide a lane for the quarterback. The remainder of the offensive line blocks down. Norwell is the backside guard in this example. Jonathan Stewart is responsible for blocking the linebacker at the second level.
This was a crucial play in the second half. The Patriots clog up the middle, so there is limited room for Newton. He bounces the run outside to convert. The slide was the cherry on top.
Inverted (Power) Veer
The Panthers final touchdown came on an inverted power read. Newton’s job is to read the unblocked edge defender. He has two options. Hand the ball off to McCaffrey or run it himself. Like the power concept, the backside guard (Norwell) pulls playside to provide Newton a hole.
Once the edge defender commits to McCaffrey, Newton decides to keep the ball. He has Norwell leading him. Newton has leverage over the linebackers due to their eyes being on McCaffrey. The inverted power veer is essentially a combination of a zone read and power scheme.
The lead draw is the perfect play call on 3rd down. The defense doesn’t expect it. The Patriots had six defensive backs on the field on this 3rd down. The goal is to eliminate the underneath defenders. The left tackle snaps into a pass set. The offense has to spread the field out, so each wide receiver is covered by a defender. The Patriots are in man coverage, which helps open up a huge hole.
Christian McCaffrey’s job is to locate the linebacker. McCaffrey does that and the Panthers have a hat on every defender.. Cam, again, provides the cherry on top by sliding. Well done.
It was refreshing to witness the quarterback run concepts reappear in a must win game. Newton is a physical freak. The touchdown run displayed his strength as a runner. Mike Shula has received some deserved criticism, but his game plan was well executed. If the Panthers can wisely call more designed runs for Cam, then the offense will continue to improve.