The Carolina Panthers are off to a tremendous season, partly because of Cam Newton’s level of play. Head coach Ron Rivera explained on Pro Football Talk Live that offensive coordinator Mike Shula looked at old Auburn game tape to get the most out of Newton.
“We had a little bit of a slow start and during that slow start,” Rivera said of his first-year offensive coordinator. “One of the things that Mike and the offensive staff did was they went back and looked at — we have a library of all of Cam’s plays from college — they looked at what Cam did extremely well and said, ‘You know what, let’s adapt a couple of these ideas and incorporate them into what we do.’ [Shula] took three or four things that [Newton] did really well and we’ve incorporated that and put that into what we do as an offense. Mike has made it work and that has really helped us.”
This was an on the fly move, not a preseason one. Rivera said that the study of Newton’s Auburn game tapes happened after they started the season 0-2 after a loss to the Buffalo Bills. After that game they went 1-1 in their next two games sandwiching a bye week. Then they went on a eight-game win streak.
“We went up to Buffalo, we were doing some things, took a step back and said, ‘What can we do to help the quarterback?’” Rivera said. “Mike and his guys said they were going to go back and take a look at it and Mike told me they really wanted to do it so we did it. He came to me and said, ‘Look, Coach, this is what I want to incorporate and this is why.’ Mike’s reasoning and his thought process is right on and I was really excited to hear, ‘Let’s take a look at some of these other concepts, somebody else’s ideas. It’s going to help the team, let’s do it.’ I was really excited to hear that.”