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
(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Donte Jackson /

Move away from soft-zone coverage

One of the more frustrating elements of the 2020 season on defense was Phil Snow’s insistence to keep using soft-zone coverages. This is something that really hurt the Carolina Panthers -especially when they weren’t generating pressure – which left quarterbacks able to pick them apart almost at will throughout the season.

If the Panthers want to become realistic postseason contenders next time around, this has to change. Nobody will know that more than Snow, who got a baptism of fire in his first year calling plays in the NFL.

How he responds during this year’s preparations will tell us plenty about the coordinator’s adaptability, which is vital if Carolina wants to enter the playoff picture.

Not having Donte Jackson at full health for most of the season didn’t help matters. The former LSU standout dealt with a toe problem all the way up to their Week 13 bye and once he got a good period of rehabilitation, his production looked every bit the No. 1 corner Carolina hoped he would become when they decided to let James Bradberry walk.

Getting another athletic player opposite Jackson who thrives in man coverage is of critical importance. Whether this comes via a veteran free-agent or an exciting draft prospect is irrelevant, as long as the right player arrives.