Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams have lately been “crash and bash” rather than “smash and dash”. While I realize some of these falters were due to bad reads by the OC, the RBs need to take their share of the responsibility.
The great running backs did not lose yards simply because of a blown play, they readjusted and broke for big yards. Bo Jackson, Walter Peyton, Barry Sander, and Adrian Peterson alike. They are known for their vision.
I believe both Williams and Stewart have the capability to be great runners TOGETHER if the right plays were called and the runners did not give up on a play imply because defense has read it correctly.
Both Stewart and Williams have big contracts and as I said in my last article big contracts means teams need to see big production, or at least consistent production with or without good play calling.
With the OC the play calling should make more sense. Stewart up the middle, Williams on the outside as it should be. To counteract the defense reading this, throw in counters, pitches and read-options. As far as the passing game Williams should be on wheel routes and the deep ball while Stewart should be in the flat and small curl routes over the middle. Screen passes could be split between the two to give the defense different looks.
Another option is a four man backfield which the Redskins used to some effect during this season. With Stewart, Williams, and Barner rotating in the defense would have too many looks to cover. Tolbert could stay in as a staple for blocking or running. This could increase yardage by both running backs due to the complexity of the backfield.
I would hate to see either RB go, they have become a staple of the Carolina Panthers and have been fan favorites for quite some time. However fans must realize the harsh reality that is a dual running system: it is easy to read.
I have put my two cents in on how the RBs can gain yardage, and how plays could be called to give them more opportunities. However, injuries and bad plays don’t excuse everything. The RBs need to keep their head and their vision while on the field to earn their contract.
Do I love the idea of “smash and dash”? Yes. Do I think it will work consistently or be cost effective? No. I like both RBs but they have huge contracts and are not producing the amount of yards needed to constitute paying that much money.
A RB that has both capabilities could be found in the draft, undrafted free agents, or maybe even Kenjon Barner will step up to the challenge. No team or franchise wants to give up fan favorites, but when they players are not producing the business end of football must step forward to save what is left in the piggy bank.
While Williams himself may have taken a contract restructure, as well as other players, that bides Carolina time. It does not however address the pressing concern of high octane contracts and low octane play. The yards per carry of Stewart went from 5.4 in 2011 to 3.6 in 2012. Williams yards per carry went from 5.4 to 4.3 in those same years.
The Carolina Panthers have been trying out Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams for several years and production has been dropping. This allows for the idea of trying something different to be thrown around.
Williams and Stewart may break out this year and do great things. I want them to. But just like Rivera, if it becomes the same old story, new storytellers may be in order.