4 burning questions Panthers fans are asking ahead of Week 10 vs. Falcons

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Baker Mayfield
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Baker Mayfield /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

The Carolina Panthers’ defensive struggles

What is going on with the defense? Is it effort from the players? Or is it Al Holcomb?– Ryan Antonyraj

Another great question from Ryan this week. Thank you again. This is a burning question that many Carolina Panthers fans are asking following Sunday’s performance.

What happened to this once-great defense? There has been a lot going wrong this year, specifically over the last two weeks.

I don’t think this is an effort issue and it’s far from it. The Panthers’ commitment defensively has been outstanding. It’s the lack of discipline with respective assignments I have an issue with.

Brian Burns and defensive tackle Derrick Brown have been the only two defensive linemen to generate pressure on the quarterback. Cornerback Jaycee Horn is the most consistent player in coverage, yet had one of the worst games of his young career versus Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals.

The struggles of the defensive line and the cornerback room outside of Horn have been quite noticeable this season. C.J. Henderson, Donte Jackson, Keith Taylor, and even Myles Hartsfield have found life difficult lately, especially with run support, tackling, and coverage principles.

The second level of the defense has also flattered to deceive, especially in the run game. Linebackers are being out-muscled at the point of attack and their run fits have been wildly inconsistent.

Frankie Luvu’s strong start seems like a fond memory at this point. Even Shaq Thompson hasn’t played as well as some had hoped following a great 2021 campaign.

There is a lot of talent. Yet, that has yet to be shown consistently. Maybe that changes Thursday night following the firing of cornerback coach Evan Cooper and defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni.

Or, maybe it doesn’t. Again, just like with the quarterbacks this will be a week-to-week evaluation. It seems like Steve Wilks is under that mindset, too.

Either way, Week 10 against the Atlanta Falcons seems quite pivotal.