Oh DeAngelo Williams! His case is a most intriguing one. He was one of the most beloved Panthers in the past few years, and maybe one of the most beloved Panthers of all time, definitely one of the most beloved Panther Running Back in the Panthers history as a franchise. But he began to slip after an amazing home-opener game against the Saints this year. Jonathon Stewart replaced him as the starter a few games later, and there were a few games where Williams saw no production at all. But somehow Stewart got himself injured and Williams found himself in the starting spot again. He topped off the season with one of the best games of his career with a 210 yard game at New Orleans, so in the end I guess things worked out well for him.
Now going into this season, the Panthers have added another Running Back to the roster, Kenjon Barner. Now I’m not saying that Barner is a threat to placement of Stewart or Williams, he just proves to be better than Poole and Smith, who were the other backs on the roster. So there could be some heat from Barner with the coming season, if he proves to be a pivotal player at the Running Back spot in the Pre-Season.
Williams’s biggest rival is basically himself. He seems to be the type of player who can get down on himself after a bad game and then let that affect him. I know I’m reading way too far into the situation and it could just be that he is becoming one of the older backs in the league, though he isn’t too old either, but that could be the reason his play last year was slipping. And for some reason I sort of saw Williams getting a sort of Julius Peppers syndrome, where he seemed not to be playing his best just to get out Carolina, I’m sure I’m the only one.
Stewart doesn’t really seem to be a point weakness either. Williams and Stewart have very different run styles. There was a reason while their nickname was, and forever will be, “Smash and Dash”. Williams is the type of runner to run around the outside and make people miss with his speed, the dash in the nickname, while Stewart is the type of player who runs up the middle finding holes, or creating them himself, the smash. The differences between them are somewhat astronomical and there should be no reason for either of them to be labeled the starter. They definitely work better together than against each other.
I think the best way for the Panthers to succeed is to do what they have done for the past few years, play both Stewart and Williams with equal amount of reps. Add in the addition of Tolbert last year, and the Panthers have one of the best backfields in the entire NFL. And with Kenjon Barner’s speed, there should be yet another reason for the Panthers to succeed in the NFL, especially in the backfield; I’m really excited to see how they play next year.
Those are my thoughts on the Running Back situation in Carolina, but what do you guys think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.