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Breaking down Carolina's running game

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

Marty Callinan of ESPN Stats & Information put together an excellent study of Carolina’s running game after doing some serious video tracking.

Since Marty’s work is so thorough, I’ll run it in full:

Now that Jonathan Stewart is close to full-strength, Carolina has been able to get back to the smash-and-dash duo that literally carried it to the playoffs a season ago. The Panthers started 2009 with a 1-4 record but have won two of their last three games. Carolina has been able to control the clock and move the chains thanks to a more effective ground game. In Weeks 6-8 (three games) the Panthers running back duo of DeAngelo Williams and Stewart nearly doubled its rushing yards from Weeks 1-5 (four games).

Trend: The Panthers' run game struggled in short-yardage situations during their first four games. In downs with 1 to 2 yards to go, Williams and Stewart combined for 16 yards on 9 rushes (1.8 avg.) over that stretch and never reached the end zone. In the three games since, the two have rushed 19 times for 126 yards (6.6 avg.) and four TD in short-yardage situations.

  • Jake Delhomme: 7-10, 40 pass yards, TD (110.4 rating) with 1-2 yards to go in 2009

Trend 2: One major difference between the first four games and the last three has been the effectiveness of Williams and Stewart when rushing up the middle and to the left. The two averaged 3.7 yards per rush when running between the left sideline and right guard in Weeks 1-5 (70 rushes, 259 yards). In Weeks 6-8, that average jumped to 5.9 yards per rush (91 rushes, 536 yards) with twice as many TD (6).

Trend 3: Williams and Stewart have also been more effective in the second half recently. A running back's workload typically increases when a team is trying to control the clock, but with that increase in rushes has come an increase in production.