Heading into Sunday's matchup with the Saints, it was expected that a lot of points would be scored. But with New Orleans being without their top two receivers (Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders), there was some thought that maybe Carolina could limit the amount of explosive plays from the Saints. Unfortunately, that was not the case so let's take a look at how each aspect of the defense graded out.
Run defense: D
This has been the Panthers' biggest area of concern through the first six weeks of the season and the struggles continued in week seven. Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray combined for 130 yards rushing on 25 carries, which is an average of 5.2 yards per carry. Not only were the Panthers giving up over five yards a pop, but they also gave up some long runs too. Kamara busted one for 32 yards and Murray went for 25 nearly untouched up the middle. The defensive line has to do a much better job of fitting gaps to make things easier on the linebackers.
Pass defense: F
I really hate giving F's and trust me I tried to find where there were a couple of good things that happened in the secondary and I just couldn't find any. It looked like a defense that was without Juston Burris and Rasul Douglas and playing a new corner (Eli Apple) for the first time. Chemistry and communication was just not at the level it has been and having those two guys out of the lineup was a major blow. Drew Brees was able to pick apart that Carolina secondary with a bunch of guys that typically don't get a whole lot of playing time as he finished his day 29/36 for 287 yards and two touchdowns. The dude couldn't miss.
The only thing keeping this from an F was Brian Burns' sack/fumble of Drew Brees that was recovered by Carolina defensive end Marquis Haynes. Aside from that, Brees was comfortable in the pocket all day long, which was why he was so effective throwing the ball. One sack, two QB hits vs the Saints isn't going to cut it. Defensive coordinator Phil Snow may have to start bringing more than three or four guys, but that's going to leave guys like Eli Apple and Troy Pride Jr. on an island which may not be a good idea. Somehow, they've got to find ways to generate more pressure. It can't just be the Brian Burns show.
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