The Panthers secondary is getting even deeper with Munnerlyn’s improvement.
For many players, especially those who had a rough season the year before, a brand-new season means that you can turn the page and start fresh. For cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, that has certainly been the case this season. After not playing much in the 2017 campaign, he had a tremendous game last Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
He played in 50 snaps throughout the course of the game, his most in a game this season. Not only that, he recorded an interception, his first one since the 2015 campaign. If nothing else, this showed that he is still considered a prominent member of the defense. Considering the fact that he was able to take advantage of the opportunity, I would imagine he will continue to see snaps in the future.
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Currently, he is the second player at the left cornerback position behind James Bradberry per a depth chart from Panthers.com. On the year, he has recorded 16 tackles, an interception, and three pass deflections. Those are pretty good numbers when you consider he had 29 tackles all of last year. Throughout the course of the off-season, I predicted that he would have a bounce back year and it looks like that may be the case.
Per statistics from Pro Football Focus, his pass coverage grade of 68.1 is his highest rating since 2016. In addition, his pass rush rating of 60.8 is his highest since the 2015 season. This is truly a great comeback story. He went from hardly playing any snaps last season, to becoming a key member of the secondary. Much of the credit goes to defensive coordinator Eric Washington, who is not afraid to play players as he sees fit.
Munnerlyn may get a chance to continue the good momentum against a Tampa Bay passing attack that has accumulated 2273 yards on the season. While that sounds good on paper, it does come with some flaws. One of the flaws is accurate passes. In particular, Ryan Fitzpatrick struggles with passes on the outside left. He has a 55.8 % passer rating when he throws to the left side of the field. In terms of what that means for this game, it may mean a lot of passes are headed Munnerlyn’s way.
This will be a nice test for Munnerlyn to see if he can continue to perform at a high level. Although Bradberry will probably take most of the snaps, Munnerlyn should still see a fair amount of action. With a high-octane passing attack like Tampa Bay’s, the Panthers need to have all hands on deck.
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