Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula had himself in a mental pickle after Sunday’s tie.
Quarterback Cam Newton rushed for 107 yards on a career-high 17 carries after having just 14 carries in his previous four games combined. Did the Panthers run him too much?
“I feel like I ran him too much, and yet I didn’t run him enough,” Shula said.
The Panthers have been cautious with Newton, who had offseason ankle surgery and whose recovery from that was delayed by cracked ribs in the preseason.
Carolina had not been ready to “unleash” Newton, as Rivera called it. And Shula questioned if Newton would have been healthy enough the previous week to rush the ball 17 times.
“If you asked him he’d say yes,” Shula said. “(But) on a conservative side probably not.
“He’s talented and he’s still not 100 percent. I think he made it through OK so I hopefully he’ll keep getting better.”
Newton had two rushes for 6 yards at halftime. That was in part because of Carolina getting just three possessions in the first half, including one three-and-out. Shula and the Panthers coaching staff talked at halftime about allowing Newton to run the ball more after installing more run plays for the quarterback that week in practice.
Newton rushed 11 times for 70 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime period. Darrin Reaves was Carolina’s only other ball carrier, and he had four rushes for 7 yards in that same time frame.