Most Carolina Panthers fans were not fond of the over-use of the read option last season, because it seemed like Cam Newton was significantly more effective when dropping back in a traditional style. The read option should be used sparingly by the Panthers offense as a way to keep the defense on its heels at times, but it should most certainly not be the Panthers bread-and-butter on offense; which is what it seemed like it was in 2012.
Rob Chudzinski did a lot of great things for the Panthers during his time as the offensive coordinator, and that’s why he finds himself as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns. However, Chud did one thing that bugged me and that was being too creative and implementing the read option as some sort of a mainstay crop on offense. As the season wore on, the Panthers finally scrapped using the read option so often, and you can bet the team won’t be making the same mistake twice.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said via the Charlotte Observer, “We have it as a mixer. We have it just enough that coordinators have to pay attention to what we do. I think off of it, we can do so many different things.”
This is exactly how it should be; a way to keep defenses honest and make them worry about another wrinkle in the Panthers offense. More and more teams are trying to use the read option, but it doesn’t work for everyone. To me, it doesn’t work for Cam Newton. I think he can fit as more of a “traditional” quarterback with added rushing ability, because it’s all about the bottom line and results. Last season, the results showed that Newton was more effective when the zone read wasn’t heavily used by Carolina.
Panthers GM Dave Gettleman said something incredibly interesting and true at its roots, “I think a read option is an option. But at the end of the day your quarterback has to make plays from the pocket. And if he can’t, you’re going to struggle.”
Gettleman also said that Newton was better when the Panthers moved out of using the zone read, and it sounds like Gettleman wants to implement a vertical offense with the Panthers. That sounds like a perfect fit when looking at the running game and Newton’s skill-set, and this is what I envisioned after Newton’s first season. Gettleman added that the scheme will be similar to what the New York Giants do, and I’m all for that.
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