4 ways Carolina Panthers can improve on defense in 2021

(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Jeremy Chinn
(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Jeremy Chinn /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Derrick Brown /

How can the Carolina Panthers from a defensive standpoint in 2021?

Although things didn’t get off to the best of starts on defense for the Carolina Panthers in 2020, things improved dramatically as the season went on. A young unit with a coordinator who didn’t have any play-calling experience at the next level in Phil Snow went through their fair share of growing pains. But the collective strides made during the second half of the campaign leave plenty of reasons to be encouraged moving forward.

There are some outstanding playmakers that Carolina can build around in their pursuit of progression in 2021 and beyond. The Panthers need to do some work on key positional groups in the weeks and months ahead, but if they can make the right sort of improvements things will surely get even better next time around.

Carolina’s all-defense draft in 2020 proved to be a shrewd move by the organization. Defensive tackle Derrick Brown looks to be a star in the making and was the right pick at No. 7 overall. Another positive is that this group could all develop together at the same time, which is a massive plus in terms of cohesion during what is sure to be another offseason with COVID-19 complications.

Speaking of this, let’s take a look at four ways the Panthers can improve on defense during a critical preparation period before competitive action rolls around in 2021.

Number 1

Carolina Panthers
(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

Boost the pass-rush

It was no surprise to see the Carolina Panthers make improvements defensively once their ability to generate pressure took a step forward.

Getting in opposing backfields was almost non-existent during the early stages of the campaign unless it was coming from Brian Burns. But they caused some real problems against some impressive teams down the stretch and if they can get a couple of additional reinforcements in free agency or the 2021 NFL Draft, it is going to help their cause considerably.

There are high hopes for Yetur Gross-Matos in 2021 after showing flashes of brilliance during his rookie year. Carolina would also be wise to bring restricted free-agent Efe Obada back after generating 5.5 sacks during the campaign.

Stephen Weatherly and Kawann Short were released as expected, which saves money and is in keeping with the team’s desire to go younger. Who comes in to replace them will be crucial and if the Panthers get this right, the sky is the limit.