November 15th a motivated Buccaneers team came into Bank of America stadium and gave the Panthers a good ole fashion beat down – scoring 46 over-all points, including 29 in the second half. After the loss veteran linebacker Shaq Thompson called out the entire team.
“I’m not going to curse every other word, but he said some things,” Rasul Douglas said after the game. “He basically told everybody to look in the mirror. Like the coaches have been preaching all week – details, leverage, assignment and winning your one-on-ones and none of us did any of that. The whole team, we all did bad. He basically cursed everybody out and said we didn’t fight hard enough, we didn’t want it more.”
Since that game the Panthers’ young, but talented defense has shown improvement – pitching a shutout against Detroit the following Sunday, coming out with more energy in the 3rd quarter and getting stops that gives the offense an opportunity to win the game at the end. But there’s one important area where Carolina hasn’t improved…”the money down.”
“We have started to play better,” defensive coordinator Phil Snow said when I asked him if he sees progress from his young defensive group. “We have moments when we don’t. I thought we’d been playing the third quarter real well and then this last game we didn’t, but we are starting to put together better quarters and halves. One of the things we have to do is win third down. Third down has been our achilles heel.”
Snow says the defensive unit has spent a lot of time in practice specifically working on third down, but guys also have to know if you want to secure the bag…that’s where you do it.
“It’s the money down. For every position, if you want to get new contracts and make a lot of money you have to win third down – intercepting the ball as a defensive back, sacking the passer as a pass rusher and a linebacker getting both sacks and interceptions.”
Snow added that sometimes young players don’t understand how crucial that down is to the team and their long-term success in the league. Saturday they’ll get their toughest “money down” test of the season. Currently the Panthers’ defense is dead last in third down defense, while the Packers’ offense is 2nd . Wanna give your agent something to work with when they sit down to discuss your next contract…sack or intercept Aaron Rodgers on third down Saturday.