The third preseason game is usually seen as the dress rehearsal and the best view of how the team will play this season. If you are a Carolina Panthers fan, you are thinking this may be the weirdest season in history.
On one side of the ball, the defense has shocked people out of their socks. Every expert has been saying how the defense is the biggest question because Peppers is gone as well as a few other veterans. After three weeks, the only question about the defense is whether they will be top 5 or top 3 in overall defense and SACKS. Yes, I said sacks as last night the Panthers continued to show off their motors with 7 sacks, 4 coming in the first half. They now have 18 for the preseason.
The Panthers received sack production from Everette Brown, Charles Johnson, Greg Hardy and Eric Moore. The best part is that Brown, Hardy and Moore have been doing this all preseason. Brown was always a second too late against Baltimore, but the quarterbacks of the Jets and Titans don’t have the same quick releases. Hardy is staying healthy and making every team that passed on him cry as he is doing something Peppers rarely did, get tackles and not just sacks.
The biggest surprise has been Eric Moore who has done nothing but produce this preseason. Then there is Charles Johnson who has finally joined the sack parade. Brayton’s injury may have been a blessing as I know I wouldn’t mind starting Brown on one end and Johnson on the other. Most importantly, the Panthers now know that they are 5 deep at end with Hardy and Moore emerging. The defensive end position may be turning into the strength of the defense after all.
The passing defense has not been the only star this preseason. They may have held Young to 48 yards passing, but they also held Chris Johnson to 10 yards on 8 carries. The defense did the same to the Ravens mighty running game and to the Jets starters. The tackles have been stepping up and, along with help from the ends, players like Landri, Leonard and Ed Johnson have done their jobs plugging the middle.
The Carolina Panthers are becoming scary as they have held opponents to 11 points per game and the starting defense has only been responsible for 10 points all preseason. Ron Meeks has created a Speed Demon and opposing offenses will be looking around corners for flying defenders this season.
- On a side note. The Panthers offense has not scored a touchdown all preseason. The line only allowed 1 sack against the Titans, but numerous penalties and the inability to get to the Red Zone or score when they get there has created cause for concern. There is still room for optimism as Jeff Otah, Steve Smith, and Jonathan Stewart have been out all preseason and are huge parts of the offense.