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Panthers Need Pass Game To Complement Robust Rushing Talent

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By Danny Cox

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers escapes pressure during NFL game action from Kyle Williams #95 of the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers (Credit, Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Who would have thought that the Carolina Panthers would be sitting at 5-3, second place in the NFC South, and enjoying a four-game win streak? Just about anyone who is a fan of the Carolina Panthers; that’s who.

The thing here is that this team could actually end up being even better than they are right now.

With the return of Jonathan Stewart to go along with DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert; the Panthers running game is going to improve upon being ranked eighth in the league. Let’s not forget how much Cam Newton adds to that total as well.

Defensively, the Panthers have the 10th-ranked passing defense and the second-ranked rushing defense. That amounts to holding five opponents to 15 points or less during their five victories this season. Looking at their losses, no one scored over 24 points so the D is good even when they lose.

Now, the passing game. Well … the passing game is currently ranked 25th in the NFL, and that may seem frustrating, but the truly aggravating thing is that it easily has the ability to be so much better.

Newton has shown flashes of his rookie season accomplishments this year, but not nearly often enough. Through eight games, he has 1,801 yards and that’s not bad, but it certainly is far from great. He has just one 300-yard passing game this season and has thrown under 250 yards in the rest.

His QBR is a low 59.0, but that is also due to just 13 touchdown tosses and seven interceptions. Newton is currently on pace to have the worst yardage season of his career.

The problem is that shouldn’t be the case considering the targets that he has.

First of all, there is Steve Smith. Period. Having a veteran like that on the team means that there is always someone to throw to and someone that can make a play when one is needed most.

Tight end Greg Olsen is a huge target and it is shown in the fact that he is the leading receiver on the team for yardage. Smith only has two more receptions than Olsen, but the tight end leads the team with 426 yards this season.

When it comes to speed, the Panthers have Ted Ginn Jr. and Brandon LaFell. Both players are easily able to get behind any defense in the NFL, and it is hard to defend against them. It is almost impossible to defend against them when they’re both on the field at the same time.

Many may look at the stats and say that Newton’s numbers aren’t very high because the Panthers have been playing with a lead much of this season and didn’t need to throw the ball. That may be true in some regard, but this past weekend against the Atlanta Falcons, things got sloppy at times and the running game wasn’t cutting it.

That won’t work against teams such as the San Francisco 49ers, who the Panthers face this weekend.

Getting the passing game going is more easily said than done, but the ability is there for the Panthers to do it. If that part of their game can get rolling, then the Panthers easily turn into big-time contenders for the NFC crown.

For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.

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. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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