For Carolina Panthers fans and players alike, the 2016-2017 season is one they’d all like to forget.
Forget that they were ranked 21st in total defense after being a perennial top ten unit for the preceding six years. Clear their minds of the images of Cam Newton taking sack after brutal sack, 36 in all. Erase from their memories their dead last finish in the NFC South with a 6-10 record while their arch-nemesis represented the NFC in the Super Bowl.
What the Panthers organization hasn’t forgot is what made them such a powerhouse in the first place: a defensive unit that choked their opponents’ offense into submission. Ever since “Riverboat Ron” came to town, they have been a force to be reckoned with, riding that momentum to three divisional titles and a conference championship.
Last season, though, stands out as a glaring blemish.
The dismal outcome was highlighted by two omens in particular: the retirement of cornerback Charles Tillman, and a successful game of Chicken with Josh Norman (or not successful, depending on how you look at it.) This left a once vivacious secondary in shambles.
— Zesty NFL Panthers (@zesty_panthers) July 11, 2017
The Carolina Secondary was Secondary
Rookies Daryl Worley and James Bradberry started either corner and Kurt Coleman was relocated from his home at free safety and stuck in the void at strong safety. Tre Boston rounded out the group, but was benched towards the end of the season and eventually released altogether. Enter the league’s 29th ranked passing defense, and a 300 yard game by Julio Jones served as the Falcon Red cherry on top.
Carolina is now looking to atone for past transgressions with a revamped secondary. The first order of business was bringing in two time Pro-Bowler Mike Adams at strong safety, allowing Coleman to return to his natural habitat of free safety where he tallied a career high seven interceptions the season prior.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) July 7, 2017
The Panthers also brought back cornerback Captain Munnerlyn whom they lost in a bidding war with Minnesota at the conclusion of the 2013 season. Munnerlyn was unable to replicate the success he had with Carolina; nevertheless, it’s anticipated that he will return to his former glory after being reunited with the Rivera defense.
“There’s a different attitude this year.” https://t.co/RZt0y2vVrF
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) June 24, 2017
Don’t get me wrong: the secondary is one of many issues that plagued the Carolina Panthers a season ago, but it was absolutely vital that the Panthers organization make this a top priority. After all, the age old philosophy that defense wins championships has rung true time and time again.
Don’t believe me? Just ask the Panthers. After the relentless assault they succumbed to in Super Bowl L, they know this better than anyone.