Getting to the quarterback will be the name of the game for the Carolina Panthers…
Eric Washington may be the Carolina Panthers new defensive coordinator, but he does not want to change much regarding the team’s style of play.
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Sports Illustrated wrote a piece on Washington Wednesday, and in it, he gave fans a better idea of what he will expect from his defense. The plan as he tells it more or less is for the defense to have a blistering pass rush that will be difficult for offenses to figure out.
"“My pass rush expertise and the things we’ve been able to do in affecting the quarterback, we took that and expanded that to the entire defense,” Washington says. “If we send a corner or safety, we need that person to affect the quarterback. They have to turn into the fifth rusher, and they have to be very proficient with rush fundamentals.”"
Even with this aggression, Washington does not want to change the overall identity of the Carolina Panthers defense. Although there may be new things schematically, he wants to keep the team’s identity.
"“But at the same time,” Washington says, “you want to maintain an identity. We have an identity, and not I’m interested in changing that for the sake of change.”"
These words make me excited as they should for other Carolina Panthers fans as well. He wants to be aggressive which is great, and the fact that they have the personnel to do it is even better. Guys like Luke Kuechly, Julius Peppers and Dontari Poe should have a field day with this type of defense. Peppers and Poe in particular have made a living off sacking the quarterback. Kuechly plays with that aggression every snap of the football. As soon as the ball is snapped, he is off and running, and sometimes already in the backfield.
It is interesting that he mentions being proficient with rush fundamentals. There is an obvious risk to sending a cornerback or safety on a rush, which means they will have to get wherever they are going quickly. Particularly with quarterbacks who are very mobile in the pocket, they will need to be able to keep up with them and make the play. Otherwise, you may have an open receiver down the field. The defender’s timing will have to be precise and quick to affect the timing of the quarterback.
Overall, I like what I hear. In a division, full of talented quarterbacks and offenses, you need an aggressive defense. If everything goes according to plan, this defense will be one of the top ones in the National Football League again next season.