Why we should all be watching Carolina
There is a team whose offense is completely flying under the radar at the moment and it’s a great tragedy that they are. Patrick Mahomes delights us weekly with gaudy passing numbers, skilful throws and getting the best out of an outstanding cast of pass catchers. Sean McVay delights us with outstanding schematics and turning a potential number 1 bust of a quarterback into one of the best in the league.
I’m not here to diminish the achievements of the Chiefs or the Rams, but to blow the horn for a team who has one of the most fun offenses to watch in the league…and its architect is completely unexpected.
The Carolina Panthers offense is so much fun to watch. They run a lot of plays that traditionalist would call ‘gadget’ or ‘high school’ but to me they’re just so cool. Misdirections, double reverses, fake screens, option football, expansive spread passing. It’s all here.
One of the most impressive plays I’ve seen came against the Buccaneers in Week 9. The play starts off with a wide receiver lined up as the furthest back, Christian McCaffery lines up next to Cam Newton as a fullback, Cam Newton is in pistol. On the snap Newton fakes a handoff to McCaffery and the wide out runs towards the sideline in the opposite direction to McCaffery. The right guard pulls round the corner setting the play up to look like a toss to the wide reciever. McCaffery looks to block on the backside for Newton.
Meanwhile the center and left guard have blocked down like you’d expect them to on a pulling guard play but are starting to make their way towards the opposite side of the field. McCaffery spins out of the block he was making on JPP. Newton turns around and side arms the ball to McCaffery who is now in an acre of space. He now has blockers in front of him and the only player on the Buccaneers defence who has twigged whats going on is cornerback Carlton Davis. No problem for McCaffery who hurdles the tackle of Davis, follows his blocking and runs on for 32 yards.
Plays like that were common in the week 9 game. So why isn’t the league talking about this offense who looks like its finally getting the best out of Cam Newtons skill set? Well there are two main reasons. The first is that Carolina is a small market team and as such doesn’t get the national media attention that teams in bigger television markets would get. The second is the architect of this offense is Norv Turner. Yes that Norv Turner. The man who is known as a budget Mike Martz, a set in his ways coach like Dirk Koetter has completely and utterly changed his approach. The common consensus on coaches is that good coaches adapt their schemes to the players and personnel they have, which is exactly what Turner has done. Its mightily impressive that 66 year old Norv Turner has completely changes his coaching philosophy after the Panthers where heavily criticised for hiring him in the first place.
Bolt on the fact, too, that the Panthers still have a good defence.
The Luke Kuechly lead defence currently ranks 11thin yards per game. Donte Jackson looks like a steal in the 2ndround as he already has 4 picks on the season, a sack and a forced fumble. They’ve got everything required to make a run at the Superbowl. However it’s not going to be easy going. They sit at 6-2 and have a tough run in to the end of the season. With the Saints being in their division they are probably going to be fighting for a wild card spot and will have a tougher run to Atlanta in February than most.
One thing is for sure though, they’re going to be a lot of fun to watch over the remainder of the season.