Jeremy Chinn's lack of usage has come under scrutiny once again. Any hopes of further involvement seem to have been dashed by the Carolina Panthers.
The Carolina Panthers are dealing with some significant injury issues currently. This bears special significance on defense, with key figures such as Jaycee Horn, Shaq Thompson, Marquis Haynes Sr., Donte Jackson, and Xavier Woods currently out or in the process of returning.
It's not an ideal situation for a team going through early-season turmoil. Carolina is 0-5 and staring 0-6 squarely in the face heading into their all-important bye week, which will be a much-needed chance to regroup, get some bodies back to full health, and also make the necessary adjustments to finally get their campaign on track.
Given the Panthers are so depleted on the defensive side of things, it's been surprising to see Jeremy Chinn's role diminish. After the former second-round selection featured in just 30 percent of snaps at the Detroit Lions, the concern surrounding how he's being utilized is only growing.
Carolina Panthers have moved the goalposts with Jeremy Chinn
When discussing the issue in front of the media on Thursday, defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero painted the picture that Chinn is now regarded as a third-down/package specialist rather than an integral member of the starting unit via Sports Illustrated.
"There is specialized packages for him. We're obviously trying to play him and Troy (Hill) at that nickel position and then have Jeremy in some of the dime positions. Getting more third downs is how we get him on the field obviously and then some of those specialized first and second down deals too. Our execution level, our ability to play the run game better and get into more pass situations is going to allow that to happen."- Ejiro Evero via Sports Illustrated
If anyone had put forth this scenario after Chinn's first professional campaign, they'd have been laughed out of whatever building they were in at the time. He took the league by storm as an instinctive 4-3 outside linebacker and was unfortunate not to beat out Chase Young for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year - so the future looked incredibly bright.
Moving back to safety - his position coming out of Southern Illinois - was to his detriment in hindsight. Chinn's coverage issues were exposed and as we've stated previously, looks like a square peg in a round hole within Evero's 3-4 system.
Want further proof? Check out his snap counts over the first three years compared to 2023 through five weeks:
- 2020: 97%
- 2021: 99%
- 2022: 91%
- 2023 (5 games): 55%
Whether the Panthers are misusing Chinn or not is debatable. He proved more than capable of becoming a prolific second-level presence in 2020, but Evero is obviously reluctant to have him fill in permanently for the injured Thompson based on the evidence.
That begs the question of where Chinn and the Panthers go from here. The status quo could remain, but with the player currently in the final year of his rookie deal - making him a potential trade candidate if the right offer comes along.
Either way, this is not the way Chinn thought things would go this season. Based on Evero's explanation about his lack of involvement - which has almost halved in terms of reps - expect this trend to continue throughout the campaign.