Panthers 2014 Final Report Card: Running Back

The Carolina Panthers running backs had a down year until Jonathan Stewart burst onto the scene after the bye week. These are the grades for the Panthers' running backs in 2014.

Jonathan Stewart

2014 Regular Season Stats: 175 rushing attempts, 809 rushing yards, 25 receptions, 181 receiving yards, 4 total touchdowns

Best Game: Week 14 at New Orleans

Worst Game: Week 2 versus Detroit

Notes: One of the major reasons for the Carolina Panthers offensive success at the end of the year was the emergence of Jonathan Stewart. After the Week 12 bye week, Stewart averaged 18 rushing attempts and 97 rushing yards per game. Over the final six games, he had three 100-yard rushing games while the Panthers didn’t have one as a team before this stretch. He helped take pressure off Cam Newton by being so effective on the ground and forced defenses to respect this part of their offense. It helped open up more passing lanes for Newton.

The Panthers will have a tough decision in 2015 with how to handle the running back position, especially with how well Stewart played down the stretch. The only knock on Stewart is durability and if he can stay healthy for a full season.

Final Grade: A-


DeAngelo Williams

2014 Regular Season Stats: 62 rushing attempts, 219 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 44 receiving yards

Best Game: Week 1 at Tampa Bay

Worst Game: Week 10 at Philadelphia

Notes: It was a tough season for the Panthers’ all-time leading rusher as he struggled to stay on the field due to injuries. When he was on the field he wasn’t very effective and saw Stewart surpass him as the team’s featured running back. At 31 years of age, there has to be some question about how much he has left in the tank. This season, Williams finished with career lows in rushing attempts, rushing yards and touchdowns. The days of being a featured running back for him may be over however in the playoffs he seemed to do well in the back-up role, looking fresh and making strong runs. If he is willing to take on this role, he could add a few more years onto his career.

Final Grade: D


Fozzy Whittaker

2014 Regular Season Stats: 32 rushing attempts, 145 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 60 receiving yards, 2 total touchdowns

Best Game: Wild Card Round versus Arizona

Worst Game: Week 11 versus Atlanta

Notes: Fozzy Whittaker was a big play waiting to happen in the backfield but didn’t seem to get many opportunities. He had the huge 39-yard touchdown reception against the Cardinals in the Wild Card round of the playoffs as well as a 26-yard reception against the Saints back in Week 14. He never really had a chance to show what he could do running the ball this year, with only one game over eight rushing attempts. If the Panthers decide to release DeAngelo Williams this offseason, it would not be a surprise to see Whittaker get the first chance at backing up Stewart in 2015.

Final Grade: C


Mike Tolbert

2014 Stats: 37 rushing attempts, 78 rushing yards, 12 receptions, 93 yards

Best Game: Week 14 at New Orleans

Worst Game: Week 2 versus Detroit

Notes: Mike Tolbert is the type of player that makes offenses successful. He does all the little things so well from being the lead blocker for running backs and picking up blitzes on pass protection to being a safety valve for quarterbacks in the passing game. These types of players are always in high demand however like DeAngelo Williams, there may be some question of how much Tolbert has left in the tank. This was the first season since his rookie year in 2008 that he was not able to score a touchdown. He also finished with a career low in rushing yards per attempt at 2.1 yards.

Final Grade: C-

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