Carolina Panthers defense needs to get back to basics in Week 3

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Juston Burris
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Juston Burris /

The Carolina Panthers need to get back to basics on defense to avoid defeat at the Los Angeles Chargers in a crucial Week 3 contest.

Things have not been easy for the Carolina Panthers during the early stages of the 2020 season.

There might have been plenty of positives to take from their opening fortnight of competitive action, but at the end of the day, the Carolina Panthers are still 0-2. This has extended their winless run to ten games stretching back to last season and it is clear that things need to start trending on an upward curve at the earliest possible opportunity.

One of the more glaring deficiencies has come on the defensive side of the ball. The Panthers haven’t been able to stop the run efficiently and their lack of pressure on the backfield has really highlighted their problems at the second level and in the secondary.

The Carolina Panthers need more defensive stability from Phil Snow

There was little in the way of expectations surrounding this unit going into the campaign. But they might even be worse than first advertised.

Defensive coordinator Phil Snow has made some bizarre decisions regarding scheme in his first two games calling plays at the NFL level. Carolina has switched between 3-4 and 4-3 bases to their cost and it was not hard to see their improvements against the Buccaneers once the coach opted to go with a more rigid structure.

Getting back down to basics is absolutely critical. Snow’s claim that the Panthers should be able to generate pressure with their defensive front simply isn’t working currently and this is a riddle that needs to be solved.

"“When you blitz, somebody’s band is going to strike up — either theirs or yours, If you look at the pressure in the National Football League … a little less than three quarters (of sacks) are coming with a four-man rush and not the blitz. The ball’s coming out versus the blitz. We have to rush the passer with four, and that’s the key.”"

Snow needs to stop being too cute with his defense, it’s as simple as that.

Players don’t know if they’re coming or going on any given down and this lack of cohesion really cost them in the first half at the Bucs in Week 2. Snow deserves credit for changing things around at the break, but the damage had already been done.

Another element that Snow has come in for criticism during the first two games is how the coach is utilizing Brian Burns. Big things were expected of the second-year-pro after a rookie campaign that brought 7.5 sacks. But the former first-round pick has suffered more than most with how the Panthers have set-up early on.

"“He really rushed the passer well in the second half (against the Buccaneers), but he also can drop and do some other things. We’re trying to utilize who he is, and we’re in the infant stage with it.”"

Having your best pass-rusher dropping back consistently is unacceptable. The Panthers might have their fair share of problems in coverage. But not having Burns trying to take down opposing quarterbacks on every down is a recipe for disaster.

Again, this is a case of Snow being too cute with the weapons at his disposal.

He might have plenty of experience in the college system. But Snow is finding out to his and the team’s cost that the NFL is a completely different ball game.

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Hopefully, for Snow and the Panthers, these harsh lessons early in the season will stand them in good stead. But if things don’t start improving against an impressive-looking Chargers’ offense, then it will only leave all concerned with questions than answers.