The Carolina Panthers lost a very close game in an even more hostile environment. Credit the Denver Broncos for coming out in the second half and playing more physical than the Carolina Panthers. As with any loss, this one has shown us things that need to be fixed. The most glaring of which was the run defense.
The one thing we knew we could count on this season was the stout run defense of the Carolina Panthers, right? I mean, the run defense returned all starters. They infused a first round rookie defensive tackle for depth. On paper, they are a better group than last season. Apparently, paper does not win football games.
As it turns out, the run defense had one of its worst showings in recent memory. CJ Anderson ran for 92 yards and a touchdown on 20 attempts. The Panthers even allowed a rookie fullback to gash them for a touchdown almost untouched. A rookie fullback? Really?
One possible explanation for the lapse in defensive run stopping would be the unavailability of any film that the Denver Broncos may be leaning towards. The Panthers were facing an offense and a QB that was a complete unknown. This would be the most simple explanation, and thus probably the most correct one.
Is there reason to be very concerned? Maybe, maybe not. If linebacker Luke Kuechly had just one full game to look at on film from this offensive unit, I am willing to wager things would have been much different. Because of Kuechly, defensive alignments and adjustments are made on the fly up until the ball is snapped. However, without any idea what would be heading there way, Kuechly was mostly unable to adapt the play to what he was seeing. The result was lackluster run stopping, to put it mildly.
So before you panic, before you lose hope, take a breath and give it a week. San Francisco will be a good opportunity for the Carolina Panthers defense to redeem themselves.
If they do not, you then have my permission to worry, and I will be right there with you.