When the Panthers went 15-1 en route to a Super Bowl appearance, their offense flowed through quarterback Cam Newton — so much so that he was the league MVP.
Ron Rivera was Carolina’s head coach then and is Washington’s head coach now. While the Football Team won the NFC East last year at 7-9, no one is going to confuse Washington’s talent at QB with starter Ryan Fitzpatrick with what the Panthers had in Newton.
But in trying to improve the team from his first to second season as head coach, Rivera sees the way Washington’s offense is constructed as a positive.
“It’s interesting because styles are similar but the players are different, obviously. One of the positions we relied on so heavily was quarterback in Carolina, in terms of our entire offense,” Rivera said in his Tuesday press conference. “Here, we don’t necessarily have to rely on the quarterback because we do have good weapons around our QB position. So this will be a little bit different for me as I study it and watch our guys. It’s good to see the type of personnel that we have. I thought we improved — we improved at receiver, we improved at tight end, we improved at running back.
“Again, one of the goals you want to do when you talk about your offense every year is you want to protect your quarterback and you want to have playmakers around him. And I feel this year, it’s a different group of guys but I feel we’re in better position than we were last year.”
With players like wide receiver Terry McLaurin, tight end Logan Thomas, and free agent signee Curtis Samuel around him, Fitzpatrick has a chance to lead a team to the first playoff appearance of his career. Fitzpatrick may not be the the Football Team’s quarterback of the future, but in the present there should be enough around him on offense and defense to keep Washington a contender.