News Archives

Carolina Panthers Midseason Report Card: Defensive Line and Linebackers

November 6th, 2013 at 10:05 AM
By Jesse Collin

After an 0-2 start, the Carolina Panthers have won four straight and five of six to improve to 5-3 and pull within one game of the New Orleans Saints for the NFC South lead.

With 2013 NFL regular season officially halfway over, Panthers 101 is dishing out its midseason report card.

Today, the defensive line and linebackers get their marks on the midterm:

Defensive Line Evaluation: You'll have a tough time finding a better front four than Carolina's. Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy are an elite tandem at defensive end. The two bookends have combined for 49 tackles and 12 sacks on the season.


However, the biggest difference for Sean McDermott's defense has been the meat in the middle. The addition of rookies Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short – the Panthers' first two draft picks – has filled a glaring hole (pun intended) at defensive tackle this season. The two young space-eaters have helped elevate last year's league's 14th best run defense into the NFL's second-ranked unit halfway through this season.

Barring any injuries, this talented group should continue to win battles in the trenches down the stretch – even against tougher opponents.

Grade: A+

Linebacker Evaluation: It was sad to see the Panthers lose longtime middle linebacker and defensive anchor Jon Beason to a trade with the New York Giants early in the season. The writing was on the wall for the injury-riddled Beason when the team drafted Luke Kuechly ninth overall in the 2012 draft.

But Kuechly has quickly emerged as an elite NFL linebacker and the unequivocal leader on defense, making Beason's tenure seem like a distant memory in Carolina. Last year's NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year currently leads the team in tackles with 64 and, along with Mike Mitchell, interceptions with three.

Additionally, strong-side linebacker Thomas Davis' return from three ACL tears has been nothing short of extraordinary. The veteran currently has 61 tackles and three sacks halfway through the season.

Chase Blackburn, who took over for Beason at weak-side linebacker, has been adequate but not spectacular. He's been solid against the run, but struggles at times in pass coverage.

Overall, the linebackers have been excellent. This group is a big reason why the Panthers have the league's number three defense.

Grade: A


Be sure to “like” Sports Media 101 on Facebook and to follow Sports Media 101 on Twitter

You need to satisfy your competitive drive, so why not beat our experts in fantasy football. At FightClub, our official Fantasy Football partner, you can change you team weekly and win cash. Get a free $5 credit when you sign up and try them out. And each week, Sports Media 101 will sweeten the pot and award the player with top points an extra $25. Match-up and show them how good you are. Can you handle FightClub?

Your man cave is your home field advantage for every game. When the game is on the line, you should be able to look around and be reminded of the great moments you've watched unfold in that very room! MJR Sports Integrity offers a wide range or team and player-specific memorabilia that can do just that and take your game day room to the next level. Find your inspiration at MJR Sports Integrity and will your team to victory!

Tags: Carolina, Carolina Panthers, Charles Johnson, Chase Blackburn, Football, Greg Hardy, Kawann Short, Luke Kuechly, NFL, Star Lotulelei, Thomas Davis

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Login with: