It's a forgone conclusion that with the hiring of DC Ron Meeks the Panthers will move to the Tampa-2 defense. After watching their recent machinations to get under the salary cap I have to question that conclusion. If you are unfamiliar with the Tampa-2 and how it differs from a straight 4-3 you might want to read this first.
Before I get into that I have to touch on the post that got me going down this path. I was reading a very funny post from our Colts blogger who is predicting the Bucs defense is going to suck next year (good for us) because they hired former
Colts Broncos DC Jim Bates. He went so far as to label a Bates defense as "Two Fatties in the Middle" defense. As I continued to read it suddenly lost its humor as it sounded more and more like the Panthers defense. He then describes how a no-huddle offense will quickly dispatch a ‘fatty' laden defense and sites specific cases.
But hey, I'm not too worried about our defense since we are moving towards the Tampa-2 defense, right? Wait...STOP!! I have to correct something else first...I cannot accept for a moment that our defense will be called the "Tampa" 2. Can we all agree on that? Would the Redskins ever name anything associated with the team "Cowboy"? Certainly not. So let's go with the term Cover-2 going forward, okay? Yes, I realize the Cover-2 is slightly different than the Tampa-2 but again...you get my point I hope.
Are the Panthers really moving to a Cover 2 or are we keeping our "Two Fatties in the Middle" 4-3 defense? One of the big differences in the two is the size of the DT's. The Colts blogger holds up Booger McFarland as the proto-typical Cover-2 DT. McFarland was 6'0" and 300 lbs but was/is very quick. He may actually be a little heavier than a Cover 2 DC might want. Is that what we currently have on our DL? Not exactly. DT Maake Kemoeatu runs 345 lbs and was just extended on his contract so he isn't going anywhere. On the other hand DT Damione Lewis is listed at 305 lbs. He has some quickness and just may be a good fit. We are still showing Gary Gibson on the roster, he runs 285 and of course Tyler Brayton has played DT at 280. Rookie Cheesehead Nick Hayden is at 290 but newly signed J'Vonne Parker is 325. My impression is that outside of Lewis I doubt any of these guys have the speed the Cover 2 DT needs.
So are the Panthers suddenly looking for a different type of DT than those we've been salivating over? Is speed now more important than size? If speed is the priority than we can cross BJ Raji (337 lbs), Ron Brace (330) and Chris Baker (326) off the draft chart. They are just too big and too slow. Others who don't have the size but are still considered too slow for the position would be Fili Moala (5.09 40), Alex Magee (5.05) and Vance Walker (5.33).
So who does that leave as possible Cover 2 DT's the Panthers might pursue? It still leaves highly rated Peria Jerry (299, 2.94), Ziggy Hood (300, 291) and Jerron Gilbert (288, 4.87). Borderline considerations might lie with Sen'Derrick Marks (306, 5.01) and Dorell Scott (312, 4.92) among the Top 12 on Walter Football.
Some later round options might be Corvey Irwin (301, 4.99), Ricky Jean-Francois (295, 4.83) and Clinton McDonald (285, 4.80). Prospect info courtesy of Walter Football.
To date I haven't heard of a fundamental shift in the defense from HC John Fox just assumptions based on Meeks hiring. If you go by the off-season moves to date there is no indication of a change. I doubt Fox will address such a question until at least after the draft. So I'll ask you fine friends of the feline nation. Are we switching to a Cover-2 or are we sticking with "Two Fatties in the Middle"? What is your preference?