I always find it interesting when there’s a close game with a large disparity in points per play, and that’s what happened last week when Carolina played the Giants. New York had some big plays, and ended up averaging 8.15 yards per play. Meanwhile Carolina’s offense has a much more slow and methodical approach, they focus more on controlling play and getting first downs, and they averaged just 5.30 yards per play. However Carolina was able to control possession for a large part of the game, as they had the ball 10:54 seconds longer than New York did.
We all know Carolina loves to run the ball, and out of usually rushing sets they do a better job rushing than passing. With a fullback in the game they averaged 4.75 yards per rushing play, and 5.1 yards per rushing play with multiple tight ends in the game. However when it came to passing out of those sets, it was a different story. They gained just 3.33 yards per passing play with a fullback in, and they only bothered to pass the ball once with multiple tight ends in the game, and it resulted in a sack.
When it comes to breaking things down for New York, there’s not a ton to talk about. 87.5 percent of their plays were either standard personnel sets (sets with 3 receivers a tight end and a halfback) or sets with 2 tight ends 2 receivers and a halfback. In fact, New York didn’t have a drive where they ran 3 different personnel groupings until the 3rd quarter, which was on their 7th drive of the game. That drive was also the first time they had a drive where they didn’t run all but one or two plays from the same personnel grouping. New York didn’t do much to mix thing up, however that being said, there was a pretty valid reason for that. From a standard personnel set, they rushed the ball just 4 times, and lost a total of 3 yards. However on the 25 times they passes the ball from that set they gained 9.80 yards per play. It was a similar result when it came to sets with two tight ends, two receivers and a halfback, as they gained just 2.88 yards per rushing play, but gained 9.9 yards per passing play. Also one small note, New York ran just 3 plays with 4 receivers, however one was a rush for 26 yards, and another was a pass for 30 yards. So it could be argued that they should’ve used that set more frequently, however they had plenty of success moving the ball as is, so I wouldn’t criticize them too much.
For the Panthers, a 4 wide set wasn’t the best set for them. They rushed 3 times out of that set, and did pick up an 18 yard gain, but gained nothing on their other 2 rushing plays, and they gained just 4.86 yards per passing play from that set. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t pass the ball well. Out of a standard personnel set, Carolina gained 7.44 yards per passing play. Cam Newton often gets a lot of heat for not being a traditional quarterback, but in the most traditional type of sets, the Panthers performed better than in any of their other set. I thought Newton played a lot better than his numbers might indicate, while he did turn the ball over twice, he averaged a solid 6.8 yards per attempt, a sizable upgrade from their 3.8 yards per carry (obviously you expect to gain more yards passing than rushing, but it was still a pretty decent difference). One questionable call I have to touch on was with the game on the line, Carolina rushed the ball on 3rd and 1, despite having no timeouts and there being just 30 seconds left. With all the chaos of trying to figure out if they got the first down or not, it took until there was 11 seconds left for them to snap the ball and spike it. If the Panthers didn’t get the first down, they wouldn’t be able to spike the ball since it would’ve been 4th down, and they would’ve had to hurry to the line, get a first down, then get back to the line again and spike it (since there would’ve be enough time to get their field goal unit on). Not to mention they ended up kicking a field goal from that spot anyways, so the extra half a yard they gained was definitely not worth the risk. Carolina probably should’ve passed the ball there, but Gano make one of the most clutch kicks you will ever see, and the Panthers were able to move up to 3-1.