In the first two parts of this article we have looked at the things that the Panthers have done well throughout this season when it comes to getting pressure, as well as the areas in which they have really struggled. However, one of the key characteristics of the Panthers’ pass rush this season has been it’s inconsistency, and while some of that can be put down to the balance between the things the Panthers defend well and the things that the Panthers defend badly that each offense ran, there is also an extent to which the Panthers simply aren’t as good in some games as they are in others. So what is it that the Panthers have struggled to do consistently and – if such a question can be answered – why?
But first, you should catch up. Here’s The Good:
And The Bad:
And now, the inconsistent:
It’s always going to be hard for a pass rush to be effective when the ball comes out quickly, but if the secondary is able to prevent early releases, this should make for low percentage throws:
And if the corners are playing off the line, they need to be able to make sure tackles to limit the effectiveness of these quick throws:
In terms of things the Panthers can do from a defensive line standpoint, they can look to push the pockets and get hands into the quarterback’s face to increase the difficulty of the throw, with the ultimate goal being to deflect some passes at the line:
However, what has let the Panthers down at times in defending plays like this is their alignment in the secondary. Carolina has played a lot of off-coverage this season, especially early on and that made it to easy for the offense to pick up solid gains in the passing game without having to do much beyond timing the pass with the break back to the quarterback:
And sometimes they simply made themselves too easy to beat underneath, allowing for big gains:
And sometimes they just couldn’t stay with their man on underneath routes:
Or they simply let the receiver run across their face:
This is a Panthers team that is moving towards playing a lot more man coverage than they have historically, and while there is nothing fundamentally wrong with that, they have a lot of players who simply aren’t used to playing in this way, coaches who aren’t used to coaching players to deal with things they will face playing man coverage and – quite frankly – some players who really aren’t suited to playing consistent man coverage being asked to play significant snaps on the back end.
Sometimes you have to compromise your ideals for pragmatism, and while the Panthers could do a better job preventing these types of passes with better use of help defenders and some tighter underneath zone defense, at some point they are going to have to start asking themselves whether they are ready to play this much man coverage.
Oh, and if they would stop calling man-blitzes that leave the short middle supremely under-defended that would be help as well:
This isn’t the first time this has been said, but man blitzes are not my favorite tactic.
The Panthers can’t stop every quick pass, but if they are able to force offenses into resorting to trying to thread the needle then they should see that as a job well done: