Did Panthers exploit a Defensive Weakness against Eagles?


Against the Panthers, the Eagles gave up over 200 rushing yards, the most they had in a single game this season. With some media outlets quick to criticise the team and suggest that this could spell yet more problems for the birds, we’re here to reassure you that there is nothing to worry about.

On the surface, the 200+ rushing yards from Carolina doesn’t look too good at all, but if you take away Jonathan Stewart’s 36 yard counter charge and Ted Ginn’s 43 yard run then the Panthers would have only picked up 125 yards..a number that’s a lot less intimidating especially when it averages at around 4 yards per carry.

Another factor in the lack of run stopping was the absence of DeMeco Ryans. He may be the veteran of what is now a young core of ILB’s but Ryans’ presence on the field was certainly missed that night. The 31 year old was out with a hamstring injury and you could see the difference it made. Ryans should be set to return for the game against Dallas (confirmation coming within the next few days) which is encouraging but if Ryans is the heart and soul of the run D and goes down again before the end of the season, is that a worry in itself? No. Why? Kiko Alonso is also expected to return within the next few weeks and would likely fill the gap Mufasa leaves.

It could also be argued that this is really the first time the Eagles have faced a team committed to running the ball. The Panthers took some heavy hits before the season even started in terms of receiver injuries, leaving Cam Newton and company to soldier on to the best of their ability. Luckily, the incredibly physical Jonathan Stewart has stepped in and performed but has been dealt a hefty workload, already having over 100 carries this season and rushing for over 25 first downs. But because of this, the team have had to remain confident in their ability to run the ball and it’s that consistent “pounding” that arguably wore the Eagles down.

The “X-run” so to speak was a play that was ran once that game and only once..because the Defense were not expecting it. It’s a byproduct of perseverance, the Panthers attempted more rushes with Stewart against the Eagles than they did against any team so far.

It’s easy to see why Cam Newton wouldn’t want to throw against the Eagles Secondary…without repeating the same stats over and over, it’s become one of the most intimidating in the league. So they tried to go the other route and found a way through, not every team is going to be that adamant when running the ball.

So do the Eagles have anything to worry about? No. Out of the remaining games left on their schedule, three at most have running backs that are going to pose huge threats. The unit has been consistent all season and when missing its heart, consistently pounded by both an exceptional O-Line and a physical back..wobbled slightly. But the good news is that the Secondary did an exceptional job at only allowing two runs over 20 yards, the damage could have been a lot worse.

The Panthers were able to push the linebackers play after play and create holes for one of the most physical backs in the league to charge through, not every O-Line has that kind of presence, not every running back can go toe to toe with the likes of Connor Barwin and not every team is going to run the ball that much…there’s no problem or worries to be had here.