Impressive Carolina Panthers defense covering up mistakes
The Carolina Panthers defense has been getting to the quarterback.
Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera took over defensive play-calling duties during last season and continued the role this year. During the offseason, general manager Marty Hurney worked to revamp the defensive front in an effort to apply more pressure on opposing quarterbacks and in a corresponding move, the switch was announced to a 3-4, from Rivera’s traditional 4-3 base defense.
To date, it appears all of the effort is paying off.
Over the past two games, the Panthers have recorded an impressive 14 sacks. On the road in Arizona, the Panthers brought down No. 1 overall draft pick Kyler Murray eight times before getting to DeShaun Watson for six sacks this past Sunday. An impressive feat considering neither is considered as a prototypical pocket passer and each has the capability of extending plays with their legs.
Defensive end Mario Addison had five takedowns alone but the more impressive feat may be that eight different players registered at least one-half sack in the process. This versatility and the ability to create pressures from multiple positions is not only benefiting the Carolina pass rush but helping in the secondary as well.
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Through four games the Panthers lead all teams with only 158.8 passing yards allowed. A dramatic improvement over recent seasons and a testament to the current defensive backfield. Quality coverage is giving the front line time to pressure and when pressure gets there it’s masking any absences on the back end – a near perfect correlation.
In addition, the Panthers defense has been covering up for offensive miscues which was also highlighted in Houston, where Carolina lost the turnover battle but still managed to get a win. Three fumbles could have been extremely costly but it was the defense that held true only allowing one touchdown off the ensuing possessions.
Opposite, it was the Panthers offense that took advantage of takeaways by their own defense. Converting an interception and late fumble into a touchdown and field goal of their own.
A defense maintaining this type of pace throughout the remainder of the season is unlikely, but it does appear the changes invoked by Rivera and Hurney are paying off.