|Wide receiver Kealoha Pilares was the team’s leading rusher with five yards. Newton was next with four yards. Tolbert finished with two yards while Williams carried the ball six times for negative yardage.
The entire rushing attack—Stewart was inactive due to injury—put up 10 yards on the day and nine of that came from a wide receiver and a quarterback. This led to two very disturbing trends.
With 741 yards rushing, Newton became the first quarterback since Donovan McNabb in 2000 to lead his team in cheap nfl jerseys wholesale. Injuries played a small role in the $89.211 million trio only gaining 1,256 yards combined, but head coach Ron Rivera quickly started taking heat for mismanaging his stable of backs.
The Panthers had one of the most potent rushing attacks on paper in the NFL and Rivera had his sophomore quarterback throwing the ball at will. Rivera’s decision to let Newton throw his way to success backfired. Six times in the first nine games Newton threw the ball 29 times or more. He had 10 interceptions and just eight touchdowns to show for it.
Williams, Stewart and Tolbert combined for 568 yards in those first nine games, averaging 63.1 yards per game. At this point in the 2012 season, 16 individual NFL players had rushed for more yards than the three Panthers all together.
It showed on the sideline at times when players got into verbal altercations (Newton and Steve Smith). It showed up in cheap nfl jerseys (both Brandon LaFell and Captain Munnerlyn) when players started questioning the coaching decision in the media. And it showed when general manager Marty Hurney was fired.
After a Week 11 loss to the Buccaneers, the Panthers sat with a 2-8 record and no one felt safe. But then a strange thing happened. Rivera sparked a response in his team. Newton quit turning the ball over and started playing at an MVP level. The Panthers started winning.
Carolina won its last four games and five of its last six, possibly saving Rivera’s job and definitely fueling the hype train for the offseason leading into the 2013 campaign.
But there was no recovering from the poor start that led to the 2012 season. Only hope for 2013 and beyond remains.