Carolina Panthers defense could be most exciting in years

With so much talk surrounding the Carolina Panthers offense this season, it seems no one is talking about the defense. Understandable, as the Panthers draft did feature two very exciting and dynamic play makers. But for fans who are really paying close attention, it is the Carolina Panthers defense that may really have a chance to be something special this season.

To understand why, we need to look at the biggest problems of last year and decide if they have been adequately addressed.

Rookies no more 

The biggest story of the offseason last year was the rookie corners and the possibility of them both starting. Well, it happened. Bradberry and Worley quickly became the starters and understandably saw a bit of a learning curve. The good news? Toward the end of the season James Bradberry was starting to look like a legitimate shut down corner and Daryl Worley resembled a solid starting cornerback. Throw in a second training camp and preseason under now defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and you should have little concern over the Carolina Panthers starting corners this season. Let us check off that box.

Spare a nickel? 

The Panthers felt pretty good at nickel last year, with Bene Benwikere and rookie Zack Sanchez to back him up. Unfortunately, neither panned out. As it turns out, Benwikere was never fully recovered from a leg fracture late in 2015. He just could not perform on the level the Panthers were expecting. Zack Sanchez was cut before the season started, and then signed to the practice squad. When he did see playing time after Benwikere’s release, it was not pretty (to put it nicely). The Panthers finally got relief at nickel in Leonard Johnson, but by then it was too late.

Fast forward to today. The Carolina Panthers now have one of the better nickels in the league in Captain Munnerlyn. They also drafted Corn Elder who likely will take over backup duties from Zack Sanchez. Can we check off this box? Looks like it.

Safety Hazard

The Panthers had high hopes for Tre Boston last season. He was the talk of OTA practices and training camp. Tre had come into his own, and paired with Kurt Coleman the Panthers safety positions were much improved. Yeah, not so much. While Coleman played adequately at strong safety, the free safety position was lacking. The Panthers desperately looked for an answer in free agency, but found none. The Panthers ended the 2016 season with the safety position still a glaring need.

The Panthers addressed this issue in March with the signing of pro bowler Mike Adams. Adams and Coleman could prove to be the best safety tandem the Carolina Panthers have seen in many season. Sure, depth behind them is questionable, but let’s think positively and just check off that box.

carolina panthers kony ealy

Koni, Kone, Kony

Another position the Carolina Panthers tried desperately to shore up in free agency last year was defensive end. The starting tandem of Kony Ealy and Charles Johnson proved to be ineffective for the most part. Teams quickly learned that Ealy posed little threat, often times allowing a tight end to block him one on one. Mario Addison did contribute a great deal when given the chance, but it wasn’t enough.

Atlanta Choked! Never forget with this hilarious tshirt. 

atlanta falcons choked tshirt

Result? Kony Ealy was traded away and Julius Peppers was signed. Even if Peppers is only at 75% of the level he played as a Carolina Panther years ago, it will still be a huge improvement over Ealy. The Panthers also drafted Daeshon Hall who should prove to be an upgrade over Ryan Delaire. If Hall can help spell the starters in the defensive rotation regularly, it will have a significant impact on the defensive end position. Box checked.

carolina panthers julius peppers

Peppers and Johnson – 2007

Throwing this all together, it does look like the Panthers have addressed the major needs of the defense. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks may not need to worry constantly about giving up the big play, as Sean McDermott did last year. With the improvements to the defensive secondary and the defensive end position, the Panthers may be able to pin back their ears and be the attacking defense we have all come to expect from them. If so, you can safely expect the Panthers to have a top 5 defense in the NFL once again.

7 Comments

KeepPounding

May 21, 2017

Kris you do realize that mike Adams is one of the most reliable vets on this defense yea? Or are you the turd type who just looks at age and says oh no he’s old so he sucks but failed to look at his production and how it’s gotten better with his age and experience, it’s football a violent game injuries can happen at 36 or 26 if it’s gonna happen age means Shit so go jump on the Boston wagon if you’re overly concerned with age alone but don’t kiss Adams ass when he’s producing this season and you want to say you never doubted the move because those people make me want to vomit in their dinner and have them it and to all the true fans on this board #keeppounding and let’s bring that Lombardi home to Charlotte NC this season

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kris

May 14, 2017

defensively=effectively

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kris

May 14, 2017

Relying on a 36 year old strong safety to stay healthy for the entire season is not a great bet. We also have no depth at outside corner. Captain is definitely too small to play there defensively and probably Corn as well. We went to a Super Bowl with no depth at OT, so anything is possible, but I would feel better with another decent outside CB. Hopefully with the influx of highly regarded safeties from the draft a solid depth vet safety can be picked up after training camp cuts. Hall at DE looks like at least a 1 to 2 year project.

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KeepPounding

May 21, 2017

Why are you on this board you’re obviously not a fan of the Carolina Panthers you kind of sound like a butthurt failcants fan still upset his team blew a 25 point lead, so you know captain and corn personally to say neither can play on the outside because of their height well you must be confused because both can play on the outside and both play bigger than their height but again whatever makes your butthurt failcants ass feel better

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Lujack Wilsom

May 14, 2017

I agree with this article but I’m still worried about depth in the secondary…….our defense needs to be on point this year especially with the surplus on offense to other teams in the nfc south

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Bryan

May 14, 2017

Good health is EVERYTHING for this team.
If healthy, then please add the Defensive Tackle position to your analysis. A second year with a fully healed Vernon Butler provides last year’s #1 draft pick to finally support the interior line.
Star being in a contract renewal mode should produce even more.
KK is firmly on board and has nothing but solid football to be concerned about.

I agree with your article, this defense could be a special unit. Gettleman has done his job of providing talent, and s surplus of it. Steve Wilks will be out to prove he is the right man for the Defensive Coordinator job. He’ll do very well. Coach Rivera can press the right buttons so this season will not be a defensive failure.

Here’s to good health for All Panthers and Panthers fans.

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TiJo

May 18, 2017

No the failure will take place with the offense coordinator of the incompetent Mike Shula who doesn’t know to make in game adjustments. And when he came out and said last week ‘everyone needs to slow your roll’,,, No Mike, that is your whole problem. Your slow in game planning, your slow in your coaching, your slow in game adjustments, your slow in game management, your just plan SLOW….

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