In the last two seasons, no team had more plays that gained 20 or more yards than the Panthers.
On Sunday against the Seahawks, however, the Panthers had just one of them on their way to a 12-7 loss. Quarterback Cam Newton had just three passes that traveled more than 10 yards in the air, limiting the opportunities for such big gainers, and coach Ron Rivera said Monday that the team has to do a better job “in terms of getting the ball vertical” in the weeks to come.
“We understand it. We looked through it, we talked about it. And those will be the things that we look to do. We’ve got to create more of those opportunities,” Rivera said, via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. “Some of it too is the quarterback having to pull the ball down and scramble a couple of times. So there are a few things that enter into that. But we are aware of what needs to be done.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Shula, who was in his first game filling that role, credited Newton with making smart decisions that are reflected in his high completion percentage, but admitted that the team needs to make more explosive plays in the games to come.
It’s never as easy as just going out and calling more deep passes because the defense is going to dictate some of what’s available, but the Panthers aren’t going to get where they want to go offensively by throwing underneath all day long.