The Panthers defense is coming off a strong performance, having held the Texans to just 13 points and 229 total yards. 110 of those yards came from their rushing attack, meaning the Panthers rushing defense is still struggling a bit. Let’s dive in.
- Lock down the Colts rushing attack: As I stated above, the Panthers still allowed over 100 yards on the ground against a Texans team, who are averaging 91.9 yards per game (#23 in the league) and 3.3 yards rushing yards per rush (#30) per TeamRankings.com. The Colts, on the other hand, are at 129 yards per game (#9) and 4.5 yards per rush (#6). This Colts rushing attack has been effective despite the initial contract drama with Jonathan Taylor over the offseason as Zack Moss also filled in great when needed. The Panthers biggest weakness on defense has been the rushing game despite all of the injuries in the secondary, and with an offense that had a better game but still only scored 15 points, they’ll need to lock it down this week. The Colts offensive line is a bit better than the Texans, so the perimeter tackling needs to be much better than it was last week.
- Continue keeping everything in front of the secondary: The Panthers defense managed 2 sacks against the Texans last week, however their overall game plan forced CJ Stroud to take the underneath routes which handicapped the explosiveness of their offense. With QB Gardner Minshew starting and less fireworks in their receiving group, this is another week to play bend but don’t break defense as Minshew and his receivers are doing a decent job of connecting on intermediate throws. Both Michael Pittman and Josh Downs are averaging over 10 yards per reception on the season.
- Tackle better: The Panthers defense got lucky that all the missed tackles last week didn’t cost them. I initially thought Brian Burns had a decent game being disruptive and getting into the backfield as I called upon in my defensive preview, but after a second watch there were way too many opportunities for both him and others to create negative plays with tackles for a loss in run support. This is not the week to continue missing tackles, as this Colts attack will burn them if they struggle there. I saw a ton of free rushers last week that affected the flow of plays, but if you don’t bring them down at or close to a collision point, that’s not nearly as impactful.
What are you looking for, Panthers fans?