Panthers Aim to Improve Pass Rush in Week Two
Rushing the quarterback was one of the biggest problems that Carolina faced in the 34-30 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The Panthers had a grand total of zero sacks in the season opener. That won't get the job done if this team wants to win games, and it showed last Sunday. The lack of pressure Derek Carr received allowed him to comfortably throw for 239 yards and one touchdown.
A lot of this can be credited to the Raiders offensive line, who dominated Carolina's defensive line in the trenches all game long. The o-line's impressive performance opened things up in both the running in the passing game, which limited the amount of third and long plays. Defensive coordinator Phil Snow broke it down even further:
"We were in third down 12 times, eight of them were four or less yards. A lot of times when you hit the quarterback, it’s on third down in a definite passing down. Those situations when we had five 3rd and 1 or 2’s; you’re in different defenses. Another thing that hurt our pass rush was it was 2nd and 4, 2nd and 5 consistently, so you’re not really in pass rush defenses because of those down and distances."
Snow also noted how much the defense's lack of success on first down affected these situations:
"I think the thing that really affected our pass rush was our productivity on first down. It wasn’t good enough. We’ve got to get people in 2nd and long to get in pass rush mode along with 3rd and long. That was part of our problem, and then when we did get some one on ones, we didn’t win enough of them. We’re addressing that and hopefully we are much improved this week.”
Brian Burns also provided some insight on how the pass rush can improve. Burns had 7.5 sacks last year and would like to have an even greater amount this season.
"We've just got to get our hands up. If we can't get to the quarterback in a five-step drop or whatever is and he's just getting the ball out, we've just got to get our hands up to effect the pass in some kind of way. Other than that, bull rushes and putting lineman around his feet and his face, that'll affect him also."
The Panthers will be facing Tom Brady's Buccaneers tomorrow, which will be a great opportunity for the defensive line to make a statement. The Bucs offense struggled in last week's loss against the Saints, but it will be looking to get back on its feet in this week two matchup against the Panthers. If the Panthers defensive line finds a way to consistently pressure Brady, the Bucs' offensive struggles could continue.
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