Carolina's defense dominated against the run last season, and they are going to have to do it again

PFF put out a pretty insane defensive stat tonight about the Panther 2015 defense.  Carolina held opposing offenses for no gain or a loss of yards on 34% of their running plays.

Carolina didn't lead the league defensively against the rush in any single category because there were some other stingy defensive units throughout the league.  The Panthers allowed only 88.4 rushing yards on average last season, and they were still only the 4th best unit in the league!  The were 4th best in overall rushing yards  and tied for 7th in yards per carry. 

Rushing Defense Table
Rk Tm G Att Yds TD Y/A Y/G
1Seattle Seahawks163621304103.681.545.89
2New York Jets16373133543.683.471.94
3Denver Broncos164081337103.383.670.53
4Carolina Panthers163641415113.988.436.13
5Pittsburgh Steelers16382145963.891.276.91
6Arizona Cardinals16373146093.991.355.62
7Cincinnati Bengals16344147784.392.327.56
8Kansas City Chiefs16383157174.198.234.08
9New England Patriots16397157884.098.639.55
10Houston Texans163881597104.199.835.04
League Total13488557243654.1108.8663
Avg Tm/G26.3108.80.74.1108.81.3
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/24/2016.

The Panthers surprisingly struggled against the run in the first half of the season.  In weeks 4-8, Carolina allowed an average of 142 yards per game. It was a tough stretch that included the Colts, Seahawks, and Packers.  They weathered the onslaught, however. After Week 8, Carolina's rush defense became mighty stingy for the remainder of the season, allowing an average of only 68.8 yards per game.

What's most astonishing is that Carolina went undefeated in that stretch where teams ran at will against them. It highlights just how potent Carolina's offense was. 

Stopping the run will be even more important this season. The Panthers secondary is populated by a lot of rookies and they lack a strong safety who has shown that he stick his nose in the box when needed. Carolina needs to protect their inexperienced secondary with a suffocating run defense, allowing Kuechly, Davis, and Shaq to fly around the field. If these assets have to overly support the front four against the run, the can't support a secondary that will undoubtedly struggle in prolonged coverage. 

By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn