Not too long ago, in a land not too far away, the Carolina Panthers utilized a beast of a weapon to win football games almost at will. The weapon of choice climbed the NFL ladder and quietly became one of the best runners in the NFL.
But almost overnight, that weapon has been pretty much retired, and has been given less and less of a role at squashing opposing defenses.
It just seems like yesterday when DeAngelo Williams lined up in the backfield for the Panthers and every defense on the other side had to take notice and adjust to his quickness, speed, and will.
What has happened to change that?
This past Sunday the Carolina Panthers were beaten down at home, 20-7, by the Cincinnati Bengals, and although they were in the game for over three quarters, Williams touched the ball just 10 times.
Through three games in the 2010 season, Williams has 43 carries and three receptions. As a comparison, Oakland's Darren McFadden has 73 attempts, Thomas Jones of Kansas City has 52 attempts, even Pierre Thomas of the pass-happy Saints has more attempts than Williams with 46.
What are they saving him for? Williams is only 27 years old and runs with the best of them.
If you are an avid Panther fan than you probably watched the game Sunday and came away once again puzzled at the offensive strategy. We read articles about the quarterbacks for Carolina, the lack of a second wide receiver, and the targets for Steve Smith going down...but we never read articles about how little Williams is utilized in the offense.
The Bengals defense is a fine defense, well-coached with good talent, but they never stopped the run against Carolina, the Panthers stopped it themselves. Williams averaged 6.4 yards per carry Sunday. Williams could have had a big day against the Bengals defense if given more opportunity.
When you go to war, you always know your strength and you use that strength to the best of your ability to win battles. Williams is one of the biggest strengths on this team and when you replace Williams in the fourth quarter with Mike Goodson every game you let the defense off the hook and corner yourself into defeat. That's exactly what this team is doing right now.
After the 2010 draft, I predicted this young team to win eight games this year. I am trying to stick to that prediction, but if Williams continues to be sidelined during the fourth quarter, then the Carolina Panthers are going to war with a half-loaded gun, and they will probably lose 10 more battles.