5 burning questions Panthers fans are asking ahead of Week 3 vs. Saints

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /
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Carolina Panthers
(Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

Carolina Panthers defense showing inconsistency

Why was Phil Snow dropping Brian Burns into coverage when we need him rushing the passer? – Angela Denise

Thank you for your question, Angela!

The Carolina Panthers’ defense has been a hot topic through the first two weeks of the season.

This is a unit that gave up more than 200 rushing yards to the Cleveland Browns a couple of weeks ago. This time around? They conceded just over 100 versus Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants.

Carolina did a much better job squeezing gaps and not allowing Barkley much running room. Gap integrity improved drastically and the run fits by the Panthers linebacker corps were much more sound than they were against the Browns.

Frankie Luvu has become a key piece of the Panthers’ defense early this season. He had a monster day against the Giants on Sunday, racking up 10 solo tackles and four tackles-for-loss in the team’s defeat.

The secondary, however, had some inconsistencies in coverage. A couple of lapses led to a Giants touchdown drive early in the third quarter that would tie the game up at 13 apiece.

When Carolina played with man coverage principles, Jaycee Horn and C.J. Henderson showed out. However, there was some lack of discipline when the Panthers went back to their Cover 3 looks in zone schemes.

As to Brian Burns and other pass rushers dropping into coverage, this is typically normal for most defenses that are looking to throw opposing offenses off-balance when it comes to disguising pressure points. However, it’s become a clear habit for Phil Snow to do so, especially in crucial situations.

Dropping arguably your best pass-rusher, one who recorded two sacks and four hurries, into coverage on crucial downs in a tight game seems unwise.

According to Pro Football Focus, Burns had only two coverage snaps against the Browns. This week? 15 snaps with 17 against the run and 24 as a pass rusher. For the lack of true talent opposite No. 53, this seems less than ideal.

There was an obvious improvement from the Panthers’ defense in almost all facets against the Giants. Once more, however, they were put in a situation where there was little margin for error thanks to lapses on the offensive side of the ball.