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The Panthers defense wasn’t as strong
in 2018 as it has been in years past."WhiteFanposts Fanshots Sections Keep Sounding PodcastPanthers 2019 NFL DraftCSR Film RoomPanthers 2018 season review: The Panthers defenseNew Youth Michael Palardy Jersey ,7commentsThe Panthers defense wasn’t as strong in 2018 as it has been in years past. ESTShareTweetShareSharePanthers 2018 season review: The Panthers defenseThe Panthers’ defense struggled in 2018. There are several reasons this was the case, and it’s hard to single out one thing to place the most blame on—whether it be injuries, lack of a pass rush, inconsistency in coaching, or just failed execution—the overall story of the 2018 Panthers defense is a sad one. Let’s dive into the details a bit and look back at what happened to the Panthers’ defense last season.Injuries in the secondaryThe Panthers signed cornerback Ross Cockrell and safety Da’Norris Searcy to shore up their secondary with veteran leadership, but unfortunately Cockrell broke his leg during training camp and Searcy sustained two concussions before the end of Week 2. Carolina also lost backup defensive back Kevon Seymour, who injured his shoulder during the preseason. All three players were placed in injured reserve and left the Panthers with a lack of depth on their roster in 2018. Due to so many injuries, the Panthers had to rely on the tandem of James Bradberry and rookie Donte Jackson at cornerback, and brought in safety Eric Reid in free agency to fill the void left by Searcy’s absence. The secondary wasn’t the biggest failure of the defense in 2018, but if the Panthers would have been a bit luckier with the injury bug, things could have ended a lot differently in 2018 for Carolina’s defense.No pass rushNot only did the Panthers suffer from key injuries in the secondary Stitched Michael Palardy Jersey , the front seven couldn’t generate pressure on the quarterback in 2018. This resulted in the defense giving up a lot of big plays by their opponents. The Panthers finished 2018 with 35 sacks, down from 2017’s total of 50. This lack of pressure put even more strain on an injury-riddled secondary, and the Panthers defense suffered because of it. Perhaps the most depressing part of the Panthers’ lack of sacks in 2018 was the fact that future Hall of Famer and Panthers GOAT Julius Peppers finished the season one half-sack shy of moving into third place all-time in sacks. (Peppers ended his career with 159.5 sacks, good enough for fourth all-time in NFL history.) It’s truly a shame that we didn’t get to witness a bit of history with Peppers getting one more sack, but on the other hand we should consider ourselves fortunate to have the privilege of watching him play for so long.Coaching carousel Ron Rivera fired two defensive coaches and stripped Eric Washington of his play-calling duties during the midst of the team’s losing streak in the second half of the season. Once Rivera took over as the de-facto defensive coordinator the team played much better, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to turn the season around. It turns out the defense wasn’t the only reason the Panthers ended 2018 with a losing record. While 2018 didn’t end the way we wanted, there’s a chance the future will be brighter for Carolina with Rivera planning to call the plays on defense again in 2019.What’s next?There’s a lot more to the 2018 Panthers defense than I’ve covered today. So much that it will take more than one column to dive into all the details. Here at CSR we’re going to spend this week taking a closer look at the Panthers’ defense in 2018, and we’re going to provide some intricate details on each position group during the next few days. If that’s something that interests you, stay tuned! The Panthers were left waiting for other teams to finish again. Will 2019 be more of the same?" Monday Morning OptimistMonday Morning Optimist: Thus ends another seasonNew,56commentsThe Panthers were left waiting for other teams to finish again. Will 2019 be more of the same?ESTShare this storyShare this on FacebookShare this on TwitterShareAll sharing optionsShareAll sharing options for:Monday Morning Optimist: Thus ends another seasonTwitterFacebookRedditPocketFlipboardEmailPhoto by Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesThus ends another season. A year of innovative offenses chewing up yards and spitting out points is, of course Youth Julius Peppers Jersey , defined by the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever. It’s defining play was a record long punt, because football is weird and nothing in this game is constant. Well, nothing except for the Patriots. The gravity of their success is difficult to watch. I don’t mean to infer that their wins are of remarkable import or serious nature. I mean gravity in the sense that the Patriots function as close as you can get to a law of nature. When you drop an apple, it falls on another winning season and/or Super Bowl appearance and/or Super Bowl victory for Tom Brady and Bill Belichik.The Panthers are a part of their dynasty only because historians often make footnotes of those peoples conquered during an empire’s rise. The Patriots get to celebrate their dynasty because history is written by the victors, a status and a privilege the Panthers have never known. They have never written their own history. The end to their season, and how fans feel about it, always has to wait for other teams to finish playing.We can write for weeks leading up to the end of a season about why the Panthers didn’t make the playoffs, or got bounced early, or came up just short. But, because football is weird and nothing is constant, the final word has to wait for some other franchise to make history. The story is never complete without all of its context. Then we can say at least the Saints didn’t make it to the Super Bowl; at least the Patriots didn’t win again; at least the Falcons lost in an all-time fourth quarter collapse.This year there are no good guys left. The evil empire has extended its reign and we have to talk about the Panthers season in the context of other teams’ successes again. The Falcons Stitched Julius Peppers Jersey , in spite of their recent struggles, still have a potent offense. So do the Saints, in spite of Drew Brees’ antiquity. The Bucs have put together an on-paper fantastic coaching staff —now is the time for Jameis Winston to succeed, if there is ever one. The Rams and the Chiefs, in spite of their losses to that team, will probably continue to dominate the NFL and rewrite records throughout the 2019 regular season. In the face of all of this, the Panthers have lost Julius Peppers, who was still one of their best defensive linemen at the age of 37. They will lose Thomas Davis, who more than earned his playing time last season. Their Safety situation is entirely uncertain, with both Eric Reid and Mike Adams set to hit free agency. There is also the part where Adams turns 38 before the draft even starts. They do not appear poised for the kind of defensive success that won the Super Bowl last night. Not in 2019.On offense, the Panthers have a quarterback who is recovering from his second surgery on his throwing shoulder in three years. They have a star tight end who has broken his foot twice in as many years and will probably soon have to stop growing his legendary win-streak beards to hide the gray. Cam Newton was injured enough to need those surgeries in part because the last Left Tackle worth mentioning for this team was Michael Oher. It is also telling that no other quarterback was capableof playing an entire game behind the most recent Panthers' offensive lone. That's all before they lost an all-pro Center who cut his teeth snapping the ball for Jake Delhomme. Ryan Kalil was as close to a constant as this —or any— franchise will ever know.Even if the team can put a defense on paper Youth Da’Norris Searcy Jersey , how can anybody expect this offense to keep up with the rest of the league? The answer to that is simple: because football is weird and nothing is constant.Newton has said, both publicly and directly to Ron Rivera, that his shoulder is already better than he expected. Any chance of the Panthers writing their own story in 2019 starts with his health. There is a chance that he will be throwing by training camp. That would be invaluable in helping with the second most visible problem with the Panthers passing game last season. Newton had no chemistry with his young targets. DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Ian Thomas are all poised for breakout seasons in 2019. The ability to practice with their quarterback will make all the difference for them. The ability for that quarterback to make a throw deeper than seven yards —the most visible problem with the 2018 Panthers passing game— will make all the difference for the season as a whole.The potential for star power and fireworks still lies within this team. The legends that Panthers fans were raised with may have finally retired, but they don’t leave behind a team that is entirely barren of talent. The holes in the roster on the offensive and defensive lines are few enough that they can be at least patched in free agency and the draft. There won’t be a pro bowler at every position, but Chris Clark and Efe Obada proved last year that you don’t have to be a world beater to be part of a winning effort.A successful off season, meaning a well-run draft and smart spending in free agency, leaves this team a lot closer to their 6-2 start from 2018 than it does their 1-7 finish. Add in a healthy Newton —fingers crossed— and the Panthers become a team that only really have to worry about the fact that football is weird and nothing stays constant. They could be prepared for everything else.

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