Carolina Panthers seeking answers in running game


It's been frustrating to watch the Carolina Panthers' offense this season, and it's not just because of Cam Newton's struggles.

The team has relied on the zone read out of shotgun as its base running formation, and the plan simply hasn't worked. It's not fooling anyone, and Newton often makes the wrong decision on whether to hand off or keep the ball.

NFL Films' Greg Cosell, speaking on the Fantasy Guru podcast, pointed out that Newton is almost never under center. A whopping 66 percent of the team's runs have come out of shotgun. Of Carolina's 188 pass plays, 153 have been from shotgun.

It sounds like the Panthers are going to make some changes to that approach. The team has made some changes on its offensive line, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Jonathan Stewart looks like the lead back over DeAngelo Williams.

And Person expects the Panthers to shift away from the zone-read package to more of a reliance on power running. This follows a week that included the removal of general manager Marty Hurney. The team also adjusted its practice schedule.

The change, especially in the running game, is overdue. The Panthers just might have to be patient because their next game is against the Chicago Bears, one of the best defenses in football.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.