Part of the reason the Panthers were willing to let cornerback Josh Norman walk and go with a bunch of kids in the secondary was that they trusted their defensive line to make those defensive backs’ jobs easier.
But so far, the Panthers are getting little to nothing up front, which is exposing the weaknesses in the back even more as they deal with injuries.
While the lack of production is across the board, the Panthers are mainly waiting for the Kony Ealy who nearly wrecked the Super Bowl to return. After he had three sacks and an interception and forced a fumble against the Broncos last February, many thought he was ready to emerge as a playmaker in his third season. But he doesn’t have a sack yet, and just two quarterback hits in six games.
“You see what Kony is capable of doing. You saw that in the Super Bowl,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “Maybe we put a little bit too much on his shoulders. But we think he has that kind of ability.”
Ealy was also quick to cite the pressure on him.
“That’s last year,” Ealy said of the Super Bowl dominance. “My performance last year did raise a lot of expectations, [but this is] a totally different team. . . .
“You guys are putting too much pressure on myself if anything. I understand it’s a process you have to go through play in and play out. It’s not about getting sacks all the time.”
That would be especially true if anyone else on the Panthers line was getting any. But they’re not, so the focus is falling back on a guy who might have been the Super Bowl MVP if the Panthers had won, since he hasn’t resembled anything close to that since then.