The Panthers' passing attack took a hit during the preseason.
Second-year wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL in the preseason opener, and will miss the entire season. Panthers' head coach Ron Rivera announced recently that Philly Brown and Ted Ginn Jr. would absorb the starting outside receiver positions against the Jaguars on Sunday.
Philly Brown's real name is actually Corey Brown. Philly dropped his "Corey" nametag recently after dropping the majority of balls thrown to him in the preseason. I suppose his hope is that by ditching his identity, he can ditch his butterfingers as well.
Ted Ginn Jr. is a punt return-speedster-turned-starting-outside-receiver.
I'm not saying that Phil and Ted's Excellent Adventure won't be productive at all. I know for a fact that Brown and Ginn can (and will) stretch the Jaguars secondary.
But it's clear that the Panthers will rely on a few of their other apparatuses to create consistency within their offense on Sunday, and I believe Cam Newton's power run utility is something the Jaguars should be preparing for.
The Panthers and offensive coordinator Mike Shula utilize power running in their offensive scheme a lot like the rest of the NFL. The feature that makes the Panthers different, however, is the team's willingness to ram their franchise QB into a pile of bodies like a bell-cow RB.
Cam Newton is one of the NFL's only true power running quarterbacks.
QB power plays are not read options, and they are not QB draws. There is nothing to read on the play, and the O-line uses a base Power O blocking scheme.
In a basic power running play, the offensive line utilizes gap blocking and a pulling guard to gain leverage against a loaded defensive front. In a quarterback power play, the play unfolds in the same fashion, but the QB carries the ball and the RB becomes an additional blocker.
QB power is a situational play. The Panthers set up their QB power opportunity by first chipping at the defense with conventional power running, usually from the pistol formation.
The Jaguars will most likely load the box against the Panthers' pistol look on Sunday, but the defense will have to find creative ways to dig in to hold their ground against Newton.
I found a great example from last year that helps break down Newton's power running utility, and what the Jaguars might be able to do to contain it. Here's the pre-snap setup below:
The Panthers come out in the pistol. WR Jerricho Cotchery (circled in blue) is lined up behind the QB. He's going to take off to the left, removing himself form the play. Panthers' FB Mike Tolbert (yellow) is going to become the lead blocker for Cam Newton. Finally, the left guard (red) is going to pull around to the right side to create a true power run play.
Cam receives the snap, hesitates, then accelerates into the hole.
The LG and FB each man up on a defender and create an opportunity for Cam to strike the pile.
Cam meets the entire Falcons defense at the 4 yard line. But here's what make Cam Newton as a power runner so effective --
Cam has enough power in his legs to drive the pile into the endzone.
Cam isn't just a mobile QB, or a scrambling QB. He's a true, grounded power runner, and this is something the Jaguars have to account for on Sunday.
Here's the play in video form, if still frames aren't really your thing:
Cam Newton's utility in a power run gap scheme may test the Jaguars' DL on Sunday https://t.co/Orbp5WTpP7— Cole Hartley (@ColeFartley) September 9, 2015
Loading the box is a necessity against a power running team like the Panthers. The only way the Jaguars are going to be able contain the Panthers' offense is by staying disciplined.
I don't think exotic looks or blitzes will slow down a power running train. However, discipline and resilience within the defense will allow the Jaguars to match up better against gap blocking, creating a better chance at containing the Panthers' rushing attack.
It'll be a challenge, but if the Jaguars can limit Cam Newton on the ground, they'll be a step closer to taking over the game.