Name a player for the Panthers who must step up in 2017 and we can all agree that each may be poised for a breakout year. That’s what happens when you go from 15-1 to 6-10 in a calendar year. Something went wrong in a year and the team will be a mission to find the remedy. In doing so, one player or a few will be forced to have that breakout season. For the Panthers, that player will be Jonathan Stewart.
Sounds weird right? How can a player whose been over the 1000 yard mark have another breakout season?
Easy. What Stewart will be called upon to do is be the point of attack for what could possibly be the best rushing offense in the NFL. The Panthers will be a three-headed attack with Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, and Stewart.
What Stewart will provide is the tough yardage. For a player who has been productive throughout his career, he’s been at his best when he’s been a spilt back. His time shared with DeAngelo Williams was a bright spot, however, Stewart will be pushed to relive those glory years with McCaffrey in the backfield.
Stewart doesn’t need to hit the 1000 yard mark this year. What the Panthers need from him is power. Stewart is not a rookie anymore and his best attributes may be between the tackles while leaving the outside running to the younger McCaffrey.
The Panthers have Benjamin, Newton, and Olsen for the redzone, however, Stewart could easily hit 12 rushing touchdowns in 2017 if the Panthers are able to get him the ball from 5 yards out. Stewart has become more of a power runner the last few seasons and with McCaffrey and Newton doing most of their damage on 1st and 2nd downs, that will give Stewart plenty of opportunities from the goal line.
12 TD’s is nothing to scoff at and with Stewart now getting some help from the outside he’s able to attack the mouth of the defense head on and use that depictive speed he has to keep the chains moving for the Panthers.