The Carolina Panthers didnt seem to miss a beat without leading receiver Kelvin Benjamin in Sunday’s 20-17 win over NFC South division rival Atlanta Falcons. Folks wondered how an already mediocre offense would survive without its only legitimate red zone receiving weapon.
Carolinas game plan was to scale back the passing and ride the back of Cam, which is not much different than what theyve been doing since 2011. With the passing game on the back burner, they were able to rumble for over 200 rushing yards.
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Cam Newton leads the team with 86 rushing yards–the team finishes with 201 total rushing yards! #ATLvsCAR #KeepPounding
If youre looking for creativity from Carolinas offense, then you are looking in the wrong places. However, the Panthers had their reasons for getting rid of the big-body Benjamin, who was accused of not being able to get separation and lacking speed.
“We haven’t stretched the field this year and, I think, there are some things that compound some of the things we want to do as far as running the football. Not being able to stretch the field is part of the reason why we’ve seen so many eight-, nine-man boxes,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “I think [Russell Shepard] and Curtis [Samuel] and Kaelin [Clay] will get opportunities. Again, I’m not real concerned with who starts as much as who plays.”
Cam only threw for 137 yards, but Carolina played timely defense, kept the ball in their best players hands as much as possible and throwback Cam also rushed 9 times for 86 yards.
Benjamins departure has seemed to open things up for rookie Christian McCaffrey as well. The all-purpose back and former Heisman candidate out of Stanford had season highs with 15 rushes for 66 yards and he also caught a team-high five passes.
Benjamin’s replacement, Devin Funchess, also grabbed five balls. It was a recipe that has worked so many times for Carolina, and after all of the panic that followed Benjamin’s trade, Newton is full of optimism and looking forward to the future.
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All of that talk about Cam staying in the pocket more and having to avoid the big hit is once again out of the window. When the chips are down and Carolina (6-3) needs to win a big game and fight for a playoff spot, the game plan is always going to be Cam left, Cam right because he is the franchise, hes willing to take the abuse for the team and crybaby or not, he just wants to win.
That’s what you call a football player.