The 6-0 Carolina Panthers are off to the best start in franchise history, and they are doing it old school with a smash mouth brand of football that wears down opponents. Carolina is a physical team, one that beats up on opponents and who is just a pain to face right now. The running game has been phenomenal through the first six games, quieting doubters and overcoming adversity with a brand of football that may not be sexy, but is effective.
Carolina leads the league in attempts and rushing yards, averaging just over 33 carries for 144.7 yards per game. It's great to see this team frustrate opponent’s game after game, and the best part about it is that hasn’t been just one guy. Carolina’s three-headed monster, Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, and Mike Tolbert, has pounded the rock efficiently because it’s a group that complement each other nicely and can give opponents enough different looks to open up the passing.
Here are the stats for each of them to demonstrate the balance and continuity in Carolina’s running attack. Newton has 54 attempts for 245 yards and four touchdowns on the ground thus far in 2015. Jonathan Stewart has taken advantage of becoming the lead dog out of the backfield, he has 101 for a team-leading 423 yards and two touchdowns he is also accounted for 17 first downs.
Although Deangelo Williams was Carolina’s franchise leading rusher, I think it's been great for the team and Stewart to not have to split carries. The steady workload has allowed Stewart to get in rhythm and the coaching staff to establish the running game without having to worry about splitting carries or player egos. Lastly, “Tub of GOO” Mike Tolbert is not only a great blocker, but is like tackling a tree, making him a great option in the red zone and even on short screen passes. He has 20 attempts for 92 yards and two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving.
This is definitely the best part of Carolina’s offense this season, a credit to everyone from the offensive line to offensive coordinator Mike Shula. Wildly unpopular, Shula has been under fire for questionable play calling from nearly everyone except Ron Rivera. It's time, however, to give Shula some credit for being more innovative with formations and play calls, and putting this team in the best position possible to succeed.
This team also relies heavily on a great defense built since coach Rivera came to the Queen City. It’s been a dominating group, led by the ageless wonder Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly flying around the field and budding stars Josh Norman, Kawann Short, and many more. The Panthers are just a nightmare for opposing offenses to face, and the last time I checked, a good running game and defense will play anywhere. It’s a recipe for success for rest of this year and beyond. This team is very special and lives by the saying KEEP POUNDING! Sam Mills would be proud! Go Panthers!
By Cassidy Mcmahon