Thursday definitely belonged to Luke Kuechly. But let's not forget
it's a team game.
I've gone on a bit about how Star Lotulelei looked great out there,
too. I think that fans in general have become jaded about Jon Beason,
and to be fair, his return coinciding with Kuechly's massive performance
isn't going to up Beason's stock much.
But Beason made some plays out there, too. The former torchbearer of
the Panther defense did look like the Beason of old. And the truth is,
while there were some cleanup issues - specifically team missed tackles
- that's more what that defense should look like.
We'd seen a very neutered version in 2011, with no Beason or Thomas
Davis. Last year, Kuechly and Davis helped improve things, but the
interior line issues just weren't going to let it be good. Now, with
all three linebackers getting to play behind a stronger defensive line,
it's hard to not be somewhat excited about what's happening up front.
This is finally what Ron Rivera intended for this defense.
There'll be a flexibility the team hasn't enjoyed in the past. Do they
want to play back in the soft zones they were forced to play in? They
can - and an improved rush should make that look less awful. But if
they want to sit in cover 1 and bring a couple of guys, they can. They
The truth is, this defense is a couple of good DBs from being a
long-term force. What it'll look like next year, or on beyond that, is
a different story. But for now, this is more or less what they wanted