Examining the aftermath of Luke Kuechly’s retirement 1 year on

(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Luke Kuechly
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Luke Kuechly /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Luke Kuechly /

How does the Carolina Panthers defense look one year one from Luke Kuechly’s shock retirement?

It was a day that no fan of the Carolina Panthers fan will ever forget.

Luke Kuechly shocked the NFL world when he announced his retirement after eight glorious seasons with the Carolina Panthers, which was littered with individual honors and fell agonizingly short of a Super Bowl triumph. The legendary linebacker was the heart and soul of the defense from the moment he stepped on the field and his loss was a body blow that the organization might not ever replace fully.

There will never be another Kuechly.

The former first-round pick was one of the more cerebral players to ever step onto the gridiron. Kuechly was a forced to be reckoned with from the first moment to last and although he stepped away for the right reasons, Carolina could have done with him during their period of transition under head coach Matt Rhule.

Kuechly’s final career stats and accolades are just phenomenal:

  • 1,092 tackles (690 solo)
  • 75 tackles for loss
  • 31 quarterback hits
  • 12.5 sacks
  • 7 forced fumbles
  • 66 passes defended
  • 18 interceptions

However, Kuechly’s game was so much more than that. He had a rare ability to inspire others around him and anybody that came up against his ferocity didn’t forget it in a hurry.

A five-time All-Pro who was selected to seven Pro Bowls, Kuechly won NFL Defensive Rookie and Player of the Year in consecutive seasons, made the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2010s, and although he is still around the franchise as a pro scout, his presence marshaling the defense has been missed in no uncertain terms.

On the anniversary of his emotional video message that was met with an unbelievable and deserved reaction, how does the Panthers’ defense look right now?