5 things the Carolina Panthers must learn from Week 1 drubbing at Falcons

There was more bad than good, this time around, for the Carolina Panthers.
Bryce Young
Bryce Young / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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Brian Burns is invaluable to the Carolina Panthers

Before the action began, I provided a few major storylines that surrounded the Carolina Panthers heading into Week 1. Brian Burns' contract extension – or lack thereof – was at the top of the list.

So, while it may not be news to point out that Burns is a good player for this team, I do believe we just got first-hand confirmation that he is invaluable to this Panthers group.

After being named a team captain, Burns came out of the locker room with malicious intent. He was out on the field with the purpose of providing up-to-the-minute evidence of why he deserves the money that he is asking for. In fact, the edge rusher expressed that sentiment after the game.

The elite athletic specimen let his presence be felt early on, coming up with a strip-sack on third down during the Atlanta Falcons opening offensive drive. Burns kept his foot on the gas throughout the remainder of the game.

Burns accounted for multiple pressures on Desmond Ridder, but he was also impactful in run defense. He finished the day with a line of seven tackles, including 1.5 sacks, and one forced fumble.

What doesn’t show up on the stat sheet is the way Atlanta literally made halftime adjustments to scheme their offense away from Burns whenever possible. In a sport that tends to play out like an oversized chess match, No. 0 moves about on the defensive side of the ball like the Queen piece – little-to-no restrictions to his movements and absolutely must be accounted for on every play.

When Jaycee Horn left the field with a hamstring injury, the pass rush became even more imperative to the successful outlook of this football team. No longer can the defense feel confident in locking down the opponent’s premier pass catcher, or potentially closing off one half of the field.

There is always a symbiotic relationship between pass coverage and pass rush. Without the services of Horn, it becomes a slightly more one-sided affiliation in Carolina, and Burns is the only reliable edge rusher on this 53-man, or 69-man, roster.

Time to pony up.