How should the Carolina Panthers and new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero deploy Jeremy Chinn when the 2023 season arrives?
It’s been an outstanding start to the offseason for head coach Frank Reich. The new appointment left a huge impression by assembling an exceptional coaching staff, which got the full support of team owner David Tepper and his vast financial resources in pursuit of genuine progression for the Carolina Panthers in 2023.
This has been a long time coming and it’s in keeping with the newfound mentality that was sorely missing under Matt Rhule. But for the Panthers to mount a serious NFC South title challenge next season, they must get the playing personnel side of things right throughout the upcoming preparation period.
Perhaps the most exciting addition to Carolina’s staff was Ejiro Evero. The defensive coordinator generated plenty of head coaching interest throughout the recent cycle, so a strong year with the Panthers next time around might be enough to secure a well-deserved promotion in 2023.
Evero runs a creative scheme that relies heavily on athletic individuals capable of impacting all phases. This should play to the strengths of Jeremy Chinn, who looks set for an influential role heading into the final year of his rookie deal.
There’s been some fierce debate about where Chinn is best suited. He took the league by storm during a rookie campaign littered with outstanding plays at outside linebacker, which was swiftly followed by switching the South Illinois product back to the safety spot over the last two seasons.
Chinn hasn’t enjoyed nearly as much success on the backend. Although he’s far from a weak link, his influence has undoubtedly waned and this is something Evero should address as a matter of urgency this spring.
Looking at the 3-4 base concept Evero implemented to great effect with the Denver Broncos, Chinn could be the one who gets the freedom to roam and be instinctive – which is when he’s most impactful. Whether this is from an inside linebacker role or as a defensive back is the big question.
One suspects that Brian Burns will operate as a 3-4 outside linebacker in Evero’s scheme. Given how capable Frankie Luvu looked in generating pressure last season, he could thrive opposite the former Florida State star with Evero calling the shots.
Much will also depend on what the Panthers plan to do with Shaq Thompson, who could be a cap casualty thanks to the $13 million in savings involved. This leaves Carolina dangerously short of reliable options at the second-level interior, which is where Chinn could also transition given his versatility.
In truth, Evero could use Chinn almost anywhere apart from the 3-4 defensive line. This is a big-time asset to call upon and if the pair hit it off, then a blossoming partnership is likely to follow.
Getting Chinn closer to the line of scrimmage and maximizing his skill set is only going to help the Panthers. In what capacity that comes is the most fascinating aspect of this equation.
The prospect of reinforcements via free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft cannot be overlooked, either. But whichever way the Panthers go with recruitment, Chinn’s influence and potential for growth working alongside Evero is a pivotal component to any success that comes Carolina’s way.
Everyone has their own opinion of Chinn and his positional value. But fans can relax safe in the knowledge they have a gifted young defensive mind in Evero to make the final call.