Part of being the No. 1 overall pick in the draft means that the focus will be on you when things good poorly.
But the biggest thing the Panthers could do to help Cam Newton is staring them right in the face. Or in the wallet, anyway.
In yet another close loss (four of the five have been by a touchdown or less), the Panthers again largely ignored two of the biggest assets on the roster, running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, who had a combined 15 touches (only two of them runs by Williams).
That’s not a proper return on investment, considering the contracts they’ve received.
When Newton was asked about that lack of action for his backs, he was honest.
“I’m not the play caller,” he began. “When we run the football it hasn’t been exciting like we want it to be but you still have to call the plays. It’s kind of putting a strangle on our passing game.
“We’ve got to be more balanced, it’s evident, but the job’s got to get done, . . . We just find a way to keep the game close and just wait to see what happens at the end. I’m getting tired of it. That’s not a formula to win. Domination is a formula to win.”
When the Panthers beat the Saints, they ran 41 times and threw it 20. When they almost beat Atlanta on the road, it was 35 runs and 25 passes.
Sunday against the Cowboys, it was 21 rush attempts and 37 passes.
It’s easy to suggest the “it’s a passing league now” as a justification, but the problem isn’t that the Panthers aren’t passing efficiently enough.
The Panthers biggest problem at the moment is that they’re not deploying the resources they have properly.
Panthers general manager Marty Hurney and coach John Fox had a good run because they read off the same page of music, but right now, the Panthers coaches aren’t playing to the strength of the roster.
Newton wasn’t pointing fingers, he said several times he’s responsible and he expected more of himself.
Which is fair, and noble.
Williams, on the other hand, went on a passive-aggressive post-game Twitter rant, retweeting his followers’ suggestions in a feeble attempt to keep from being blamed for the complaining himself.
Even though he’s handling it kind of like a middle schooler, Williams has a reason to be frustrated. And so do the people who watch them.
Because as much promise as Newton has as a quarterback, he’s not going to get there if his play-callers keep tying one arm (the stronger one) behind his back.