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Carolina defense full of swagger but far from satisfied


CHARLOTTE – What does it mean to the Panthers that they rank No. 1 in total defense through nine games?

"It's nice. It's good to have that," safety Kurt Coleman said. "But the good thing about us is we're not really worrying about the rankings."

Dolphins head coach Adam Gase on the other hand? He's a little worried about the rankings entering Monday's game.

"I think their ranking pretty much tells a lot of the story," Gase said in a conference call. "It's probably the best defense that we've played this year so far."

The numbers do tell a lot of the story. Take a look below at statistical snapshot of Carolina's defense.

2017 Panthers Defense
Total yards per game
Rank: 1st
Rushing yards per game
Rank: 2nd
Rushing yards per attempt
Rank: 8th
Passing net yars per game
Rank: 6th
Rank: 2nd
Third down efficiency
Rank: 5th
Points per game
Rank: 4th

But the numbers don't reveal anything about the confidence the Panthers have been playing with defensively – something attack-minded defensive coordinator Steve Wilks alluded to earlier in the week.

"It's called a swagger," linebacker Thomas Davis said. "There is definitely a swagger that you have to play with as a group."

Davis and Co. definitely have that swagger. But that hasn't kept them from honestly evaluating their shortcomings from week to week.

"We're sitting here as the number one total defense in the league, but as we look at the film, we see and understand that we can be so much better," Davis said. "We feel like we leave a lot of plays out there.

"We can be so much better as a defense, and that's really the goal. We don't really focus in on what we are right now, we really focus in on where we're trying to get to."

Quarterback Jay Cutler and the Dolphins are in the crosshairs this week, and Gase knows full well what they're up against.

"It's tough to run the ball and then it's tough to throw the ball," Gase said. "If you try to push the ball down the field, you have to have great protection and it's tough to hold up against that front. They can rush four or five, and it's going to feel like an avalanche. They just cause a lot of problems. There's a lot of different pressures that they run that come from every different direction. They keep you off balance."

View photos from the week of practice leading up to the Panthers' game against the Dolphins.

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