Carolina Panthers: Defensive Preview – Can they regain their form?
The Carolina Panthers defense took a huge blow last season with the departure of Josh Norman, then another one with the injury to Luke Kuechly. However, they will enter 2017 with a renewed passion to destroy.
Norman is not coming back but the return of Julius Peppers has the fans on the edge of their seats. With Pep and Charles Johnson manning the ends that will make Luke, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson that much more dangerous up the middle.
But the true test for the Panthers defense will come from their secondary.
At one point, the defensive backs may have been the heart of their defense. However, when Norman left, the defense fell apart. During the 2016 NFL Draft, the Panthers went DB crazy with their picks and needless to say– throwing rookies into the fire to face the likes of Julio Jones, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan was not a smart move.
But this is a new year and with a new season comes new expectations and opportunities.
If Luke can come back at full strength and Peppers can show a glimpse of what made him the most athletic DE in NFL history, the Panthers may once again ride their defense to the playoffs. But it still depends on their wet-behind-the-ears-secondary. If players such as James Bradberry and Tre Boston can show signs of improvement then it will take pressure off the front seven to play tight.
The issue for the Carolina Panthers is chemistry.
If the front seven can trust that the secondary will do their jobs and not have to look over their shoulders and see if each young player is in position, it will make the season go smoother. But if there comes a time when players don’t trust one another then the Carolina Panthers could be in for another long year.