4 keys to victory for the Panthers vs. the Falcons in Week 8

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Derrick Brown /

Improve the interior pass-rush

One of the real concerns for the Carolina Panthers during their loss at the Saints was their lack of production from their defensive line interior. They were able to make their mark against a strong running attack and didn’t get the vital pass-rush needed to get quarterback Drew Brees off his spot.

This played a leading role in their demise, and if the same happens on Thursday Night Football, it is going to be a real problem. Matt Ryan has shown throughout his career what he can achieve if given time in the pocket, which is further reflected in the wealth of weapons at his disposal.

The Panthers are missing the presence of Kawann Short, which is being felt by rookie Derrick Brown more than most. The No. 7 overall pick has shown flashes of what he is capable of this season. But with the Pro Bowler missing the rest of the campaign with a shoulder problem, it has allowed opposing protection schemes to focus more of their attention on the former Auburn standout.

Zach Kerr is another who has done okay, but he failed to make the most of what appeared to be a good opportunity for some solid number in New Orleans. Carolina does have the option of using Efe Obada more on the interior in obvious pass-rushing situations. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that much more is needed.

Their defense has shown steady improvements since the start of the campaign. But there are clear problems at linebacker and even at the safety position thanks to the inconsistency of Tre Boston.

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The Panthers do have the benefit of a potential stud edge rusher in Brian Burns, who has been phenomenal. But the simple fact is generating pressure in the backfield cannot come consistently from one player alone.