4 pros and cons to the Carolina Panthers young defense in 2021

Brian Burns #53 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Brian Burns #53 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /
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Carolina Panthers
(Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports) Shaq Thompson /

Speed vs. Inconsistency

One thing that just about all young players have in common is speed, something that comes in droves with youth and slowly fades with each passing year. But this can get them in trouble sometimes.

Just like with a fancy sports car, using all that speed and acceleration in the wrong direction can end very badly.

Players like Brian Burns, Donte Jackson, and Jeremy Chinn all use this speed to their advantage when closing in on a pass-catcher or the passer. However, once you get an NFL frame going full bore in one direction it’s kind of hard to change that and this is where inconsistency potentially crops in.

Closing in quickly is all well and good and something teams relish, but if you take one bad angle a big play emerges. In fact, if you look at the majority of such scenarios in the NFL there is a least one poor angle taken by a defender at some point in the film.

Something that is more easily rectified if you haven’t fully committed to one specific angle at full speed.

That being said, speed can cover a multitude of sins, and with the NFC South being a division with mostly older and bigger receivers and running backs, that can limit the damage of bad decision-making and keep a big play from becoming a game-breaker. On the off chance a player gets behind the defense, speed is the only thing that can fix that.

Another important aspect of speed on the defensive side of the ball is the fact that NFL receivers are getting faster and faster with each passing year and no matter how good of a cover player you are, if you can’t keep up with your man, it doesn’t matter.

So while speed certainly is an asset, it can also be a liability if the player doesn’t have the instinct to use it correctly or if they rely on it too much and think they are the second coming of Deion Sanders.

A lot of younger players – especially on offense, but it shows up in the defense some as well – will rely on their speed to get them through bad technique, just as some do with their strength. This way of playing can work in college but once the margins of talent shrink in the professional game it can be a rude awakening.

The Carolina Panthers have no lack of speed on defense and as long as they can use it correctly, offenses will have a hard time moving the ball or even getting open.