Everyone laughed when then-Notre Dame and now-Cleveland Browns QB DeShone Kizer said that he has “Tom Brady’s brain in Cam Newton’s body,” but it seems like the Carolina Panthers are hoping that Newton can start to play a little more like Brady, too.
According to Monday Morning Quarterback, the Panthers were inspired by the New England Patriots performance in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons when they made their first two picks in the 2017 NFL Draft.
“In the Super Bowl,” Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula wondered the other night, “how many passes do you think Tom Brady threw to his backs? Mostly completed, right?”
Nineteen passes attempted to James White and Dion Lewis. Fifteen completed.
“So maybe sometimes it turns into just a four-yard gain. But I’ll take a four-yard gain,” Shula said.
The Panthers drafted RB Christian McCaffrey out of Stanford with the 8th overall pick and WR Curtis Samuel out of Ohio State with the 40th overall pick, but those positional definitions are mere formalities. McCaffrey can line up in the slot and Samuel can line up in the backfield.
McCaffrey and Samuel combined for 2,374 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns, along with 1,175 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns in 2016. The Panthers are trying to bring a versatility to the offense in order to help Newton get rid of the ball quickly and avoid injury-inducing hits.
They are potentially going to overhaul how Shula calls his offense, and give Newton some easy completions.
“They’re glorified runs sometimes, but they work and it doesn’t matter what you call them,” Shula said.
The Patriots offense functions by avoiding negative plays, and taking a small four-yard gain is a great option if it allows the team to fight another down. Not every play needs to be a home run.
“I think Christian’s going to help Cam,” Shula said. “In fact, I know he’s going to help Cam. Giving him those guaranteed completions—well, high-percentage completions—you hit it right on the head. With what we’ll be asking Cam, he can get the ball out quicker now.”
Carolina will face the Patriots in week 4 and have a chance to show off their playbook. Because they face that style of offense every day in practice, the Patriots should be ready to defend it.