Oct 7, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera watches the replay during the third quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Bank of America Stadium. The Seahawks defeated the Panthers 16-12. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

Ron Rivera and the Case of the Unused Receiving Unit

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September 30, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) throws for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

Over the past few games, I’ve been noticing a few things. When we find our receivers we end up in a position to score. Great examples are the past two games. Against Seattle we had one drive when we marched down the field by THROWING the ball, not running. Against Atlanta we had one drive were Cam threw the entire series and ended the drive with a twenty one yard touchdown to Kealoha Pilares. The same can be said for all of the games the Panthers have played thus far. But for some reason we have decided that running the ball is more productive for our offense. In the past four games, we’ve only won one game, the New Orleans game. In the past four games Cam has only thrown for over three hundred yards in one game, the New Orleans game. For a team that had so much success throwing the ball last year, and a team that has a very talented receiving unit, why are we spending more time running the ball?

During the offseason, we added two very good receivers, Louis Murphy and Mike Tolbert, even though Tolbert is technically a Fullback, I consider him another part of our very talented receiving team. But where does the blame lie? You can make two arguments, one for Cam Newton, and an even bigger argument for the play calling by the coaches.

September 30, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88) reacts with wide receiver Louis Murphy (83) after catching a pass against the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

My dad seems to think Cam is the problem, and that he is currently in a sophomore slump… and I completely disagree. Cam isn’t putting up the same numbers he did in his rookie year, but he has been breaking his own records on the ground. He also has been making very explosive plays as well, just not as many as he has in the past. So to me the blame ultimately lies with bad play calling by the coaching staff.

I read in The Charlotte Observer, on Saturday, that we have spent more plays running the ball this year than compared to last year, but that’s not what is so surprising. Whats so surprising is that between the first five games of this season and the first five of last season’s games, we have spent fifty three more plays passing the ball, LAST YEAR. The yards gained is also in favor for the year before. With the additions of the Murphy and Tolbert, and Brandon LaFell and Kealoha Pilares both coming into their own, I’m surprised why we don’t throw the ball as often as we used to.

We have the weapons, Olsen is near the top of the league for tight ends. Steve Smith has been consistent with his play making abilities, and is just showing signs of his age this year. LaFell and Murphy are very solid and Pilares has had two catches for forty two yards and one of our four receiving touchdowns this year, it was also his first receiving touchdown in regular season play ever. So why doesn’t Chudzinski, the offensive coordinator, continue calling plays that worked for him last year?

Jun 12, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88) talks with offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski during minicamp at the team

It gained him so much praise as one of the best coordinator’s in the league, but now he just calls more running plays, especially the read option, which in my opinion, has been overused this season.

So coming out of the bye and into this week’s match up against the Dallas Cowboys, and in every upcoming game for that matter, I’d like to see more plays through the air, especially with the possible return of David Gettis in a few weeks. I’m not saying we need to limit our running plays, the Panthers are very adept at the run game and I think it works great and adds to a very deep offensive unit. I just think the coaching staff  needs to find room for more offensive plays through the air, and if that requires limiting DeAngleo’s and Stewart’s touches, so be it.

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