By Danny Cox
The Carolina Panthers were not expected to head to the Super Bowl this year, but they were expected to compete in the NFC South. Considering that only Atlanta has more than one win, they are actually are doing that, but still not impressing anyone.
Carolina was looked at as a team that has spent a couple years rebuilding and developed a central group of players with a lot of talent. They’ve built up their defense while surrounding quarterback Cam Newton with enough weapons to sport his arm and legs, but that hasn’t been happening either.
With the bye upon them as week six of the NFL season is happening, the Panthers have got to focus on getting some things right before stepping back on the field. Here are – at least – the four things that the Carolina Panthers need to get right, and in a hurry.
4.) Get the running game going
Cam Newton is currently leading the team in rushing with 209 yards. There is nothing wrong with saying that, but when your quarterback is leading in rushing –it’s not a good sign. Newton cannot keep running like that and taking more hits than he should. No team wants their on-field leader getting punished so much.
Secondly, what is wrong with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart? Williams is averaging a mere 3.6 yards per carry. Stewart has only 107 yards on 25 carries. That is honestly quite pathetic on both counts, and they’ve got to get those boys going.
3.) Play better as an overall defensive unit
Giving up almost 250 yards passing per game is one thing. Allowing over 127 yards per game on the ground is something entirely different. It doesn’t look as bad for the Panthers because nine other teams in the NFL are giving up more yards, but a defense with that many holes in it is why they’re giving up an average of 25 points a game.
2.) Have Brandon LaFell involved more on offense
Steve Smith is leading the Panthers with 388 receiving yards. Tight end Greg Olsen is up next with 293 yards. LaFell has only 13 receptions and has caught 226 yards. That kid is one of the fastest players on both sides of the field, no matter who the Panthers are playing.
There has got to be a way to get him more involved offensively. It boggles the mind that they have only let him rush the ball once this season too. He gained 25 yards on one carry, and has speed like no other. Set up some wide receiver screens or do an end-around and allow LaFell to work his magical quickness.
1.) Find out where the real Cam Newton is
Cam Newton is the leading rusher for the Panthers, and looking overly impressive when he takes off with the ball. Explain then why he has been sacked 13 times already in just give games. There has got to be better protection for Newton, but that is going to be harder now that Ryan Kalil is gone for the season.
Perhaps if Newton’s receivers could have another second to get open, then the quarterback wouldn’t hit the ground as much. That is where point number two (LaFell) comes into play as well.
The biggest problem though is that of Newton’s production this year. Five games down and Newton has only four touchdown passes? Add that onto the fact that he also has thrown five interceptions, and there is a big problem here. Last year, he finished with 21 touchdowns to 17 interceptions. Those aren’t staggering numbers, but they are incredibly more impressive than what he’s done in 2012.
Carolina has had a week off to refresh their minds and relax their bodies. Now, they’re about to return to work and need to focus on these four points. Sure, there are other problems and issues at hand, but getting past the “big four” are steps in the right direction and toward more wins.
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.