The Carolina Panthers scored touchdowns on two drives where they used their no-huddle offense in Sunday’s 31-24 win against Chicago, earning six first downs in 10 no-huddle plays.
With that kind of success, would the Panthers consider using their quick-tempo, no-huddle offense for most or all of a game?
“The bottom line is you have to have a good mix,” Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “You can’t go to it the whole game, and if we weren’t good at it we probably wouldn’t do it at all. Each week you decide if and how much you want to use it. I don’t think we’ll ever just do it the whole game.”
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton looked sharp in the no-huddle. The Panthers scored in their 2-minute offense at the end of the first half and tied the game at 21 on their first possession of the second half.
“One thing we’ve shown is that we do handle the no-huddle nicely,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “I think it’s a good change of pace for us. We work it every day.
“When things seem to be going 100 mph, they seem to slow down even better for (Newton).”
Though there was success for Carolina in the no-huddle offense Sunday, that wasn’t the case the previous week. The Panthers started their game against Baltimore with their no-huddle offense on the first two drives.
They didn’t huddle for eight plays controlled the time of possession by more than seven minutes in the first quarter. They had zero points to show for it.
Part of Shula’s philosophy is to control time of possession, which wears down the opponent’s defense while giving the Panthers’ defense an opportunity for more rest. Rivera said because of the way Carolina is built, the team wants to control the tempo and pace of games.
“If we thought there was a huge difference (between huddling and no-huddle), yeah we’d be doing it 100 percent,” Shula said. “But like I said, it’s good to have the balance.”
Help for Brown: Rivera wasn’t pleased with how easily the Bears special teams unit got to punt returner Philly Brown.
Brown had three punt returns and one fair catch. On his 79-yard punt-return touchdown, Brown was hit just before the ball got to him, which would have been an accepted penalty had he not gotten the touchdown.
On a third-quarter punt, Brown was hit almost immediately after fielding the punt despite having an up-man protecting him in Thomas DeCoud. Brown fumbled but Antoine Cason recovered.
His final punt return got him just 3 yards.
Rivera said the team has to be better at containing the opponent’s gunners on special teams.
“Their punter hit a couple balls that were way up there. Hang time is something, too, that we’ve got to be able to sustain those blocks,” Rivera said. “That’s something we work on every day. We should just be better at it, in my opinion.”
Injury update: Rivera was hesitant to say if Jonathan Stewart would return to practice Wednesday, but said Stewart is much closer to returning to game action than teammate DeAngelo Williams.
Williams had his pink cast removed Sunday and he is in a walking boot. He’s expected to miss this week’s game at Cincinnati.
Backup running back Fozzy Whittaker was dressed in uniform for the game, but the Panthers saw it fit to let him rest one more week.
Whittaker, who suffered a quad injury earlier this season, did not play after practicing all week. Darrin Reaves and Chris Ogbonnaya took the running back snaps with Whittaker out.
“Fozzy was really, really close to being 100 percent,” Rivera said. “We had Fozzy set up to be the emergency guy if we needed it.”
Cornerback Bene’ Benwikere twisted his ankle in the first half and did not return. Cornerback Josh Norman suffered a concussion on a tackle in the first half, and he will go through the concussion protocol this week.