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    • I believe this year's defense will be the most consistent group from year to year. Most of that falls on the coach and GM. We were amazing in 2015, but that extraordinarily high production wasn't to that level before and after. I think we find out what it is like to ball year in and year out.
    • Breer definitely likes the Panthers this season. From Matt Ramas (@matt_ramas): Did we learn more about the Saints losing or the Panthers winning? Matt, I think we’re learning about a Panthers team that is finding its footing—and has a very real identity, and the kind of rugged one that Matt Rhule’s been looking to build over the last two years there. Naturally, the path there for Carolina has come through the lines of scrimmage, and when you look at the makeup of the Panthers’ groups on each side of the ball, we probably shouldn’t be surprised by it. • On defense, the Carolina front features an eighth pick (Derrick Brown), a 13th pick (Haason Reddick), a 16th pick (Brian Burns) and a 38th pick (Yetur Gross-Matos). • On offense, the Panthers don’t have quite the same line of high draft picks, but there’s a right tackle (Taylor Moton) and center (Matt Paradis) the team invested deeply in, and former first-round pick Cam Erving, who’s making $5 million per year, stopgapping left tackle. So clearly, there’s ability there. And even if there’s still work to do on the offensive side, the work has already allowed them to play a physical brand of football. Which brings us to the second piece of the equation: Rhule, Joe Brady, Phil Snow and the staff have harvested the talent. And they did that the old-fashioned way. As the team’s new quarterback, Sam Darnold, explained it to me the other day, the summer was tough by design. “The way that we practiced during training camp, we had two joint-practice weeks early against Indy and Baltimore, and I feel like that helped us a ton, to be able to practice against those teams, really veteran teams, teams that know how to practice,” Darnold told me. “That really helped us, and we had a hard training camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina. I think that kind of gave us our edge a little bit.” Darnold then cautioned that it’s still early, and that’s true. But the early numbers to back up the point are good. In Week 1, Carolina sacked Zach Wilson six times, held the Jets under three yards a carry and were very balanced run to pass (27 to 36). In Week 2, the Panthers knocked around Jameis Winston, sacking him four times; held the Saints to fewer than 3 yards a carry; and had a near 50-50 run-pass split with more than 38 minutes of possession. Long story short, I had the Panthers making the playoffs before the season started, and now I’m wondering whether I had them seeded high enough. I think they’re for real. Link
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