Carolina Panthers football has always been about two things: Running the ball and about a ferocious defense. If the Panthers are to make a deep run in the playoffs this year, they have to have both of these going for them. The defense is playing well and its success depends on overall health and specifically on Luke Kuechly’s return. So this article is going to take a look at the run game. In a word, the Panthers run game has been awful. The Panthers’ running backs combined for a pathetic 1 rushing yard on Thursday night. It is high time to make a change. It is time to put CAP in our running game’s a$$.
Jonathan Stewart is the Panthers all-time leading rusher. Adrian Peterson is the Vikings’ all-time leading rusher. The Vikings moved on. Just because you are the all-time leading rusher does not mean you aren’t required to produce. J Stew is averaging 2.9 yards per carry and has two turnovers in key spots. Granted, losing Ryan Kalil has hurt, but this season is too important to make excuses and to stand pat. I watched his runs in the Eagles game, and though the blocking was not particularly good, he had his opportunities. Take a look at this picture I took that shows a clear run lane to the right ass Darryl Williams did a nice job of pushing his man down into the middle. Had Stewart had his old burst, he would have shot through there for a big gain. However, he was slow and indecisive while Cameron Curry, the defensive end, loops around the left tackle, to tackle Stewart from behind. That is not the offensive line’s fault. The left tackle should be able to let the DE loop around on a run play and the line established the hole. It’s time to find a running back with a burst to get a chance to revive a dying Panthers’ run game.
Cameron Artis-Payne (CAP) is a more explosive and younger version of Stewart. CAP averaged 4.0 yards per carry a year ago and was the best running back on the team in preseason. He has been active the last two games but he has been relegated to special teams. I’m pounding on the table and yelling for Ron to at a minimum, mix in CAP into the rotation. For this year, it is best to relegate Christian McCaffrey to a Julien Edleman role that is mainly a slot receiving role. Let Stew get his touches as he is an awesome blocker in pass protection and still commands respect. However, it is time to inject CAP into the rotation and see what he can do. He can’t do any worse, can he? It’s time to put a CAP in the Panthers’ opponents A$$.