The Carolina Panthers defense needs to play well, and not just for half the season….
The Carolina Panthers red zone defense left a lot to be desired in the 2017 campaign, at least in the first half of the season. However, in the second half of the 2017 campaign, it was almost like the team flipped the script.
Thanks to a report from Tim Weaver of PanthersWire.com, the Carolina Panthers struggled with their red zone defense in Weeks 1-10 as they ranked No. 29 in the National Football League with a 68.4 opponent conversion percentage,
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However, in weeks 11-17, they ranked first in the entire league with a 32.0 conversion percentage. You do not need to be a math wizard to understand how big of a difference that is.
It is something to keep in mind heading into the 2018 season. Let’s say for argument’s sake the same trend continues for the team in 2018. The Carolina Panthers face offensive juggernauts such as the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers within the first 10 weeks of the season. The Eagles (No. 7 in total offense in 2017) and the Steelers (No.3) are not going to make life easy for the Panthers.
If there is one early red flag about the second half of the season (Weeks 11-17), it is that they play two games against the Atlanta Falcons. The Birds ranked No. 8 in total offense last season. Especially with those games being divisional ones, the Panthers need to focus on taking care of business in those contests in particular.
"This is another item on new defensive coordinator Eric Washington’s to-do list: figure out exactly what his predecessor Steve Wilks (now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals) did to change the dynamic and how to continue."
The Carolina Panthers certainly have the talent to be able to accomplish this. They just need to make sure that they do so. This year in particular, the Panthers have too many opponents on their schedule who can pounce on their mistakes, especially in the red zone. It is a two-fold responsibility: Washington needs to figure out how to buck the trend while there players need to do their part in making sure their opponents do not convert in the red zone. Having a revamped secondary and adding more talent to the defensive line should help with this.
It is easier said than done, but in the grand scheme of things, a solid red zone defense could be the x-factor in winning a championship.