Shula: Panthers' weapons will help Cam be like Brady


The Carolina Panthers' offensive makeover started well before draft weekend. Coach Ron Rivera insisted all offseason the offense must evolve to better protect Cam Newton.

Over the weekend, Carolina provided their quarterback with dynamic dual-threat running back Christian McCaffrey and utility slot man, and former Ohio State running back, Curtis Samuel.

It's clear the plan was to mimic the New England Patriots' offense, which uses James White and Dion Lewis to create mismatches in the passing game.

Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula told The MMQB's Peter King getting the flexibility in the backfield will make Newton's life easier.

"In the Super Bowl, how many passes do you think Tom Brady threw to his backs? Mostly completed, right?" Shula said.

Newton completed just 44 passes to running backs last season, just under 53 percent of his attempts. The Panthers targeted running backs on just 13 percent of passes last season, 31st in the NFL, per Warren Sharp. The league average was 19 percent, with the Patriots and Saints tying for second-most at 24 percent of attempts to RBs.

"So maybe sometimes it turns into just a four-yard gain. But I'll take a four-yard gain," Shula told King. "...They're glorified runs sometimes, but they work and it doesn't matter what you call them."

The Panthers want to keep Newton from taking a pounding, which means running the ball less with the quarterback. Presumably incorporating more dump-offs to McCaffrey, with quick strikes and jet sweeps to Samuel will take the pressure off Newton.

No offensive coordinator got more chess pieces in the draft than Shula. As the Panthers attempt to turn Newton into a Tom Brady/Ben Roethlisberger passer, it's now on Shula to make all the pieces on the board work.