Ron Rivera expects Cam Newton to fight him on Panthers' offensive identity change

INDIANAPOLIS — The offseason is barely started, and Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has already hammered home the point that his offense will look different next season. He’s clearly giving Cam Newton time to absorb the news because he might not like what he hears.

Not completely, anyway.

Rivera admitted at the NFL scouting combine on Thursday that he wants his quarterback to be running less often going forward, something he expects Newton to fight him on.

“Oh yeah, without a doubt. I promise you that,” Rivera said. “He wants the football. But we have to be very dogged in terms of what we are going do with him and how we are going to do it. We have to pick and choose the right situations and circumstances. But knowing him, he wants to succeed and do things that help this football team win. And I believe he’ll do the right things to help us win.”

Cam Newton might not be happy with the changes the Panthers make on offense. (AP)
Cam Newton might not be happy with the changes the Panthers make on offense. (AP)

Newton has been a subject of public ire, given how much he gets hit and isn’t given the benefit of a call against the opponent by referees. However, that’s not in play when Newton’s a runner; the NFL rules are different in those cases. But given the overall pounding Newton has taken the past two seasons, taking 69 sacks, running 222 times and getting hit countless more instances over his past 29 games over that span, something does likely need to change.

“The one thing we don’t want to do is overexpose our quarterback as a runner,” Rivera said. “So we have to go ahead and look to change some of the things we do. Some of the philosophies have to be different when it comes to running the football.”

That obviously could come with a bigger threat in the backfield next to Newton. When asked on Wednesday if the Panthers would draft a running back, GM Dave Gettleman said, “That’s a fair statement.” He then was asked about power backs who weigh 240 pounds — oh, such as LSU’s Leonard Fournette — and a big smile came across Gettleman’s face. “Big running backs are nice,” he said.

So are big quarterbacks, but Newton might not be flashing off his brilliant running if Rivera gets his way. Coaches often do, but Newton doesn’t have to be happy about it either.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!