The Carolina Panthers may actually have something this season that has been nonexistent for about 9 years: Creativity.
I’m talking about the open minded approach that Ron Rivera is bringing to Charlotte. Rivera’s Coordinating back ground brings a bit of difference to the position at hand.
In Chicago, he headed the Cover 2 Defense, then, he was the head of San Diego’s #1 Ranked 3-4 Defense. Now, Rivera has gone on the clock saying he’s not taking away Carolina’s 4-3, but instead creating a hybrid defense. This defense has the potential to look and feel like Baltimore’s hybrid defense.
Picture this: Carolina’s defense working like Baltimore’s. Okay, now let that sink in. It is possible that this could be the case now that Rivera is in Carolina. The hybrid defense will bring in a new style that Carolina has been yearning for. The Panthers have Jon Beason and James Anderson, together these guys can develop into LB’s similar to Suggs and Lewis. I am not saying they will be the next duo, but they have the potential to become two of the best.
So we move into what Ron Rivera‘s defense is going to look like. His hybrid is going to be something similar to Baltimore. What this means: different situations mean different defensive strategies. On 1st down and running situations, Carolina’s 4-3 is going to present, with about 6 players in the box. This is going to put a bigger weight on the safeties, because they will have to defend the run, but also be ready for a pass or play action.
It’s now 2nd or 3rd and long: the Panthers are working on defending the pass. This is where a 3-4 will show up. Putting the linebackers back and have 7 in coverage. Aggressively defend the pass and make them check down. This can hold them to 3 or 4 yard passes and stop the 1st down conversion. On the other hand, Carolina can show exotic blitzes. Exotic blitzes can be anything from a slot corner blitz on the weak side to a safety blitz and can include a linebacker blitz with the d-line dropping back into coverage.
All this shows is Rivera’s creativity. I know the Panthers haven’t seen it in a while, but it is coming. Defense’s lead to the Super Bowl, but starting this will get us away from the agony of a 2-14 season. Rivera will turn this team around if he can effectively use a hybrid style defense. The Panthers have the talent in all aspects of the defense. The Panthers need us to have patience though. These changes aren’t going to happen overnight, and Carolina won’t see the Super Bowl next season (if there is one). Hold on, though, our time will come.