The Panthers have employed a backfield committee for so long that you might actually think they invented the concept. But no, they didn't — in fact, they nearly killed it by giving DeSahun Foster all those [expletive] carries.
The committee era may finally be at an end for Carolina in 2012, however. Here's the scoop, via the AP's Steve Reed:
Coach Ron Rivera said in an effort to shake things up the Panthers are moving away from their long-standing philosophy of rotating Williams and Stewart.
Rivera said the Panthers will instead look to ''find one guy, develop a rhythm and if he gets hot, ride him'' against Chicago Sunday.
That one guy, apparently, will be Jonathan Stewart. He'll draw the start against the Bears, as he did last week against the Cowboys. DeAngelo Williams played only five snaps against Dallas, carrying twice for just four yards (and then hitting Twitter, where he re-tweeted any fan with a complaint about the Panthers' game-plan). Carolina wants to rely more on a power run game, less on the zone-read package, and Stewart will be the primary back. Williams seems to have little more than a supporting role right now, for which he'll be compensated handsomely.
Stewart suffered through a medley of injuries earlier in the year, but he's clearly healthy now. His team's offense is still a big steaming mess, of course, and his quarterback is calling for suggestion boxes. So there's that. Also, Stewart's upcoming schedule is less than ideal (at Chicago, at Washington, vs. Denver, vs. Tampa). But in prior years, whenever a single running back has dominated the workload for Carolina, that guy has been a fantasy star. Stewart is averaging 4.1 YPC this season and 4.8 for his career, so he's no scrub. He's a capable receiver, too, a guy who can pile up yards even when he's not piling up carries.
Thus, J-Stew gets the value bump, with a brutal match-up on deck. Williams has the handcuff role, where he's un-startable. And Cam Newton will probably continue to lead the team in rushing. (And I'm sorry I brought DeSahun into this — that was uncalled for, an unwelcome flashback).