Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly has been named the NFC’s defensive player of the week, and it might not be the last honor coming his way.
Kuechly had a career-high 16 tackles in the Panthers’ 30-20 win over the Falcons, and leads the league with 130 tackles on the season.
This is where I generally point out that gross tackles are a horribly misleading stat, tabulated on the spot by game-day statisticians who don’t always have a clear idea what a tackle is or who made it. It can also skew heavily toward bad defenses, whose inability to get off the field creates more opportunities to tackle someone.
All that said (and believed), Kuechly has been a bright spot for the Panthers, who fell apart last year when they lost middle linebacker Jon Beason, and might have again this year without Kuechly. He seemed like a luxury pick in April when they chose him ninth overall, but he looks like a necessity now.
His performance also makes him a strong contender for defensive rookie of the year honors, and sets the stage for him to become the kind of leader the Panthers have been looking for on that side of the ball.