The Carolina Panthers, despite not looking too brilliant on offense, have had a perfect start to the season, obviously leaning a lot on Cam Newton and especially his running ability, more than ever before.
Newton has rushed 43 times in the first four games, putting him on pace to finish the season with 172 carries. He’s never carried the ball more than 127 times in a season, so the current pace, also coming from holding comfortable leads early enough in all of their games, might not be here to stick around for the entire season.
Newton has rushed for 195 yards, scoring a couple of touchdowns and averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He’s hovering around the 5.5 yards per rush for his career, suggesting the obvious: His efficiency dropping the more he runs, although it also has to do with the kind of players he has around him.
The Panthers, as always, don’t really have anything special going for them on the width of the field. They lost their best wide receiver to injury, and Newton isn’t looking down at two-three excellent passing options each times he draws the snap. The Panthers need him to keep things simple and also run the ball more than before, even if it puts him at more risk. The Panthers are 4th in the NFL with 132.3 yards per game on the ground. Don’t expect them to change their direction any time soon.
Newton is a very big quarterback and can take a hit, but he’s also smart enough in how he handles running situations and incoming tackles, when he can prepare himself and slide or jump out of the way.
For now, even with more difficult competition heading the Panthers way, it’s not likely they’ll change their offensive game plan, which means making Newton run the ball more than we’ve gotten used to seeing from him.