Carolina Panthers’ Jonathan Stewart Should Be Starting RB


Through 13 games of the 2014 season, Jonathan Stewart has been the Carolina Panthers’ best running back.

Despite missing a handful of games this year, Stewart has outplayed DeAngelo Williams in almost every aspect that matters on the field.  Williams is a great guy on and off the field, but if Carolina wants a productive running game, Stewart needs to be named the starting running back.

Panthers’ Head Coach Ron Rivera has not named a starter for Carolina’s week 15 game against Tampa Bay.

After such a positive game yesterday, I don’t want to bring any negative energy to Cat Crave Nation, but I am confused by this lack of support.  Yes, it’s noble to support a veteran player that was the starter all season, and shouldn’t lose his spot to an injury.  However, if you crunch the numbers and watch the games, there’s no way that Williams deserves to start over Stewart.

All season long, the seventh-year back out of Oregon has run with purpose.

He has run hard, through tacklers and toughed out collision, after bloody collision.  Stewart is constantly seen breaking several tackles on plays and rarely goes down after initial contact.  Unlike Williams’ usual three-yard collapse just past the line-of-scrimmage.

For all of the negativity that has been thrown at the Panthers’ running backs this year, there’s finally a glimmer of hope back there.  The Panthers’ offensive line is finally playing like a cohesive unit that is generating some good chemistry.  The holes that have been opened the past two weeks and the offensive output from Stewart should not go to waste in a back-up role.

Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

J.Stew grinded out 85 yards last week in Minnesota, and followed that up on Sunday with a 155-yard outburst in New Orleans.  Included in yesterday’s amazing performance, was a carry that Stewart took 69-yards to the house for six.

He finally looks healthy and embodies exactly what this Panthers’ team needs – relentless effort.

If Carolina has any chance of locking up an NFC South title (as crazy as that sounds), it requires a relentless effort from its’ players to never give up.  Jonathan Stewart lets his actions and energy speak for him, and he is the player that I want toting the rock 17-20 times a game.

One of Carolina’s downfalls this season has been the coaching staff’s inability to put aside whatever preferences that have been set up for veterans to maintain their jobs.  Jason Avant, Antoine Cason and Thomas DeCoud are positive and high-character men, but just were not producing for the Panthers.  Look at the difference Philly Brown (for Avant), Bene Benwikere (for Cason) and Tre Boston (for Decoud) made over the past two games.

DeAngelo Williams is a fan favorite, but it’s time to do the right thing.

The right thing is starting the better running back.

The right thing is starting the running back that gives Carolina the best chance of winning out, and hosting a first-round playoff game at Bank of America Stadium.

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The outstanding play of the Carolina Panthers’ offensive line and Jonathan Stewart have given fans hope in playing a 17th game this year.  Let’s hope that the decision makers in the Queen City don’t extinguish this upswing of energy by defaulting back to the former starter.  Embrace change and see how similar decisions to the starting lineups at other positions sparked improvement.

Keep Pounding.

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