Sunday's loss to Minnesota will sting a little longer than usual for the Panthers as they enter their bye week, but the defense has to be satisfied with the effort they put on the field producing two sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, nine QB hits, and two scoop and scores. Our defensive grades for the Panthers are a bit of a mixed bag this week. Go ahead and check them out below!
Pass defense: D
The first three quarters of the game was actually not that bad as Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense seemed flustered at times, only putting up a mere ten points. Once the game reached the fourth and final quarter, Cousins caught on fire and could not miss. Bisi Johnson, Justin Jefferson, Kyle Rudolph, and Chad Beebe all had seven receptions a piece for Minnesota. It's not like the Panthers had trouble defending just one guy in particular, it was the entire receiving unit.
Run defense: A
I tell you what, holding a guy like Dalvin Cook to just 61 yards on 18 carries is very hard to do and is something I thought this Carolina defense was incapable of doing. Since their blowout home loss to Tampa Bay, the Panthers have allowed just 136 rushing yards in the past two games. Maybe, just maybe, that front seven is starting to figure some things out.
The Panthers were able to bring Cousins down to the ground twice and also put nine hits on him. They were able to put pressure on him early and often but as the game went on, I thought defensive coordinator Phil Snow pulled back the reigns on the aggressive approach and became more conservative. The only reason this area didn't grade out as an "A" is because there were a few missed opportunities late in the game that could have helped win the game.
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