Entering the 2012 season Sean McDermott was in a tenuous position among fans. The one-time optimism of a talented coach in a bad situation had given way to a belief that he never had it, and there was good reason he was a cast-off in Philadelphia. Was McDermott a good coach lost in a lockout season, struggling to use his talent, or were the Carolina Panthers destined to be looking for another defensive coordinator, just two years into the Ron Rivera's tenure? Now we may have the answer.
In this week's DVOA rankings from Football Outsiders, we saw the further maturation of the Carolina Panthers defense under Sean McDermott, and for the first time in years the Panthers are ranked in the top 10 in the NFL. Currently sitting in ninth spot, with a DOVA of -6.1%, the Panthers are performing better against the offenses they have faced than the majority of the NFL.
This -6.1% rating has them as the best defense in the NFC South, and sixth in the NFC. Not bad for a unit missing an All Pro linebacker and their only reliable cornerback. This is a very different Panthers team, and while it's easy to heap praise on the defensive line, don't forget the man orchestrating it all... a man many fans were ready to discard.