Are the Carolina Panthers the NFL's Best Defense?

Are the Carolina Panthers the NFL's Best Defense?

Had we beaten the Seahawks, the question wouldn’t be totally absurd. Panther fans should savor the defensive flavor presented in the following statistical breakdown.

OK, OK, so you may not be ready to go that far, Panther fans can celebrate a top #5 overall defense and the #1 defense in the NFC.

The eye test does not always make the Panther fan ready to leap to the defense of the Panthers’ defensive honor in the sports banter world, the stats suggest, however, we can at least when arguing with fans of divisional rivals.

Here is a quick breakdown of Carolina’s overall NFL defensive rankings in comparison with their closet NFC categorical competitor.

Defensive Stat
Panther Ranking (NFL Overall )
NFC South Top Closest Opponent Ranking (NFLOverall)
Yards Per Game
11 (Saints)
Points Allowed per game
4 (Saints)
Passing (YPG)
9 (Saints)
Rushing (YPG)
5 (Tampa)
3rd Down Stop %
8 (Saints)
10 (Saints)

I’m not ready to say that this defense has the chops of of the Peppers, Rucker, Morgan, and Witherspoon era, but this is a solid group that could become that elite defense next year--given we can hold onto Gregg Hardy.

The bright spots:

  • Luke Kuechly- Tackling machine and potentially the most instinctive defensive player since Ray Lewis.  
  • Defensive Line- Big Money and Hardy are tough on the outside, while Star and Short appear both to be capable of becoming elite tackles.
  • Bend but not Break- The Panthers defense is has not emerged as an intimidating foe.  Mediocre offenses have moved the ball on Carolina, but the defense has clearly kept Carolina in ball games.  Ranked 2nd overall in points allowed per game, Carolina’s point stingy defense allows on average 13 points per game.
The irritated eye test:

We see glimmer of hope with this bunch, but 3rd down, the red zone, and the fourth quarter consistently disappoint.  These are categories that count--a lot. Teams seem to move the ball at the worst times.  Is this because we are young in the secondary and lack a deep defensive rotation on the line and behind the linebackers?

Seattle, Buffalo, Arizona--enough said.  All beat us down the stretch.  All games we should have won.  Is this all on the defense?  Seattle and Buffalo were. You can say the Williams fumble was the problem in the opener, but Russell Wilson killed the Panthers.

There is good news, however. We can easily improve these less impressive defensive statistical categories.  Strangely, this will have to happen on the other side of the ball.  Extended drives and an effective run game will keep defense rested and create less of the situations in the long-run.

Just think Panther nation, in week four we were considering a coaching change and looking to the draft.

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