Panthers aren’t making the 3-4 their base defense

Reuters

It’s easy to see why some might think the Panthers are switching things up on defense.

But they’re not changing it to the extent some might suggest.

In an item at NFL.com yesterday, former NFL personnel man Mike Lombardi made reference to the Panthers switching to a 3-4 system. The item was later edited to read: “mixing in elements of the 3-4.”

Two Panthers sources said last night (one in stronger terms than the other) there was no intention to change their base defense, and any use of the 3-4 would be situational.

It’s been considered by many that Ron Rivera might want to make such a move, given his background with the 3-4 and the Panthers abject lack of pass-rush. The only problem is their personnel doesn’t really fit the style.

Big-money defensive end Charles Johnson doesn’t make sense standing up as an outside linebacker, as he lacks elite speed on the edge, getting most of his pressure with power moves. And other than veteran Ron Edwards, there doesn’t appear to be a legitimate nose tackle on the roster. For-now middle linebacker Jon Beason might be an odd fit as well, as DeMeco Ryans found out in Houston when Wade Phillips jammed him into a round hole. First-rounder Luke Kuechly could make the adjustment, but linebackers Thomas Davis and James Anderson would be ill-suited. Those are all significant investments to cast aside for the sake of change. Financially, it would be hard to make such an adjustment.

The Panthers have stocked themselves with some tweener pass-rushers from Rivera’s San Diego past (Antwan Applewhite and Jyles Tucker), but any use of the 3-4 is a wrinkle more than a philosophical shift.