The Panthers have been talking about evolving their offense all offseason. Specifically, they want to try to turn Cam Newton into a little more of a Tom Brady.
Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula told Peter King of TheMMQB.com that part of the reason the Panthers took a pair of multi-dimensional backs/receivers with their first two picks was to give Newton more easy completions per game, much in the same way Brady used backs James White and Dion Lewis in the Super Bowl, connecting on 15-of-19 passes for 112 yards (5.9 yards per completion)
“In the Super Bowl, how many passes do you think Tom Brady threw to his backs? Mostly completed, right?” Shula said. “So maybe sometimes it turns into just a four-yard gain. But I’ll take a four-yard gain. . . .
“They’re glorified runs sometimes, but they work and it doesn’t matter what you call them.”
Both first-rounder Christian McCaffrey and second-rounder Curtis Samuel have the kind of hands and quickness (and in Samuel’s case, pure speed) to make them dangerous weapons in the passing game.
The greater question might be whether Shula is the one to administer such an attack.
In his eight seasons as an NFL coordinator (four each in Tampa Bay under Tony Dungy and in Carolina), his offenses ranked 22.4th in the league in total yards and 18.9th in points. In five of those eight seasons they ranked 22nd or worse in yards, and in six of the eight seasons, they ranked 18th or worse in scoring. The only time they ranked in the top third of the league in either category was when the Panthers led the league in scoring in 2015 when they went 15-1 en route to the Super Bowl.
But after a disappointing 2016 season which wasn’t the fault of any one man, the Panthers have given Newton and Shula more chances to succeed this offseason, with players who should make it easier for both of them.