Carolina Panthers: Defensive line built to improve secondary play

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Kawann Short
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Kawann Short /

Front end additions set to assist back end of the Carolina Panthers defense.

It’s no secret that the Carolina Panthers secondary has been the weakest portion of the defense during the past few seasons. Ever since former general manager Dave Gettleman rescinded the franchise tag off Josh Norman, allowing him to walk away for nothing in return, Carolina has searched for a suitable replacement.

The landscape of the entire secondary changed prior to the 2016 season and Gettleman understood. He drafted three consecutive cornerbacks despite only having five picks in the ensuing NFL Draft but only one (James Bradberry) remains with the team – just three seasons later.

The Panthers were torched by divisional rival Atlanta and Julio Jones for 300 yards and have been playing catch up ever since. Enter Marty Hurney, who was named interim general manager following the firing of Gettleman just before the 2017 season. He ultimately earned another opportunity for a full time gig while putting his own stamp on the Panthers.

There’s no question the play of the secondary has improved and recent additions – both on the back end and up front – appear to have this defense ready to compete on a new level this season. Getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks is a key component of the Carolina defensive front and even though their production declined last season, the secondary play has improved.

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A positive sign for a group that should be even better in 2019. Not re-signing veteran safety Mike Adams, the Panthers proved they have confidence in their current roster, in addition to any changes made up front.

Coach Ron Rivera is set to continue making play calls and the defense is planning to institute more 3-4 fronts. This change and addition of Bruce Irvin, first-round pick Brian Burns and prized free agent Gerald McCoy is expected to improve the defensive line pressure.

In a pass happy league and NFC South, these changes should not only improve the defensive performance up front but also a depleted secondary. If Carolina can generate consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks then their cornerbacks and safeties should also enjoy improved production.

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The pieces are in place and now it’ll be up to the Panthers and those on the final roster to perform.