I’m continuing to plow through the massive pre-draft package I got from ESPN’s Stats & Information. The latest item to catch my eye was on the Panthers and the lack of success they had using the blitz on third downs last season.
Coach John Fox has always prided himself on generating a pass rush from the front four. But Fox also has been known as a guy who will take a chance and send a blitzer from time to time. That really didn’t work last year -- at least not on third downs.
On third-down plays in which the Panthers sent five or more rushers, they produced just one sack. That tied them with the Jaguars and Rams for the lowest total in the NFL. Part of the reason for that might have been the season-ending injury to outside linebacker Thomas Davis. He’s perhaps the best athlete in Carolina’s back seven and losing him was a blow.
But there’s no doubt the Panthers have to get better in this area. With the departure of defensive end Julius Peppers, the Panthers are without a proven pass rusher. They may need some help from beyond the front four this season.