4 burning questions Carolina Panthers fans are asking ahead of Week 2

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ben McAdoo
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ben McAdoo /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu /

Carolina Panthers run defense issues

I feel like stopping the run is our biggest issue right now. How do you see us addressing this as we go forward?  – Justin Berry

Thank you for your question, Justin!

When it comes to what went wrong on Sunday, defending the run is either at the very top or one of the top issues on the list for the Carolina Panthers. The Cleveland Browns rushed for 217 yards on 39 attempts, averaging less than six yards per carry. Their star running back, Nick Chubb, ran for 141 yards while Kareem Hunt added 41 of his own.

While this isn’t the worst rushing performance the Panthers have allowed in franchise history, it is certainly of the more disappointing efforts considering the expectations for the defense going into the season.

Going into the game, the Panthers defensive line was facing a big task in trying to penetrate the Browns’ protection – one of the better ones you’ll see in the NFL. Their use of a wide zone blocking scheme is perfect for not only their offensive line but the running backs as well.

Chubb and Hunt, as I explained in last week’s feature, are very smart and disciplined runners. So, this isn’t too surprising to see the Browns have success against the Panthers up front, especially with their lack of size on the edges.

What was frustrating was how undisciplined the linebackers were with their run fits and gap integrity. There were times when Damien Wilson and Cory Littleton failed to squeeze or fill holes, which led to some chunk yards. However, I was encouraged by Frankie Luvu and Shaq Thompson as the two played fairly well throughout the game.

As to how the Panthers should address the lack of run defense discipline, they have to play better. Plain and simple.

Facing Saquon Barkley this coming weekend will not be an easy task. But the Panthers’ defensive line should have a better day against a weaker New York Giants offensive line.

I would like to see more Luvu against the run next week as well as rookie linebacker Brandon Smith, who should be healthier after being listed as questionable for Carolina’s season opener.

I will also remind fans of this: it’s Week 1 of the regular season. The Panthers have 16 games to show they can defend the run well consistently. If this becomes a trend early this season and the Carolina begins to lose games because of that, defensive coordinator Phil Snow should be on the scorching-hot seat.