Cam Newton has figured out something about his roster that seems apparent, but wasn’t always grasped by his coaches.
Since he has a lot of good running backs at his disposal, it has occurred to the Panthers quarterback that perhaps he should use them.
“For us the running game is key,’’ Newton said, via Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com. “I think last year or the years past, and I don’t want to dwell on that during the interview, but the success for the Carolina Panthers has been getting our running backs involved in the game early and letting those guys do what they do.’’
That relatively basic concept was lost last year on the Panthers, who leaned too heavily on Newton and the read-option, marginalizing DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
As the season progressed, they began to use more of a traditional running game, which was part of the reason for their improvement on offense. With fullback Mike Tolbert and adding rookie Kenjon Barner to the mix, the Panthers have plenty of options, and Newton intends to use them.
“I feel like we have unbelievable tandem, especially with the additions that we have in Kenjon and other guys that’s capable of running the football as well as catching the ball out of the backfield,’’ Newton said. “That’s a field that we have to keep the defense honest with. Everyone knows we have playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, but for us to be successful, I feel and everyone feels on the offensive side of the ball that we have to run the football, that we will run the football.’’
Newton’s ability to throw the deep ball is only magnified when the Panthers have balance, and letting people other than the quarterback do the running can only help keep him on the field.
He has sufficient weapons in the passing game with Steve Smith and Greg Olsen, but understanding where your strengths are and playing to them is the first challenge for any quarterback, or play-caller.