Limping into Sundays contest against the Chicago Bears, the Carolina Panthers will try to establish the run. Carolina finished the 2011 season ranked third in the NFL in rushing, but that production has failed to show up this season as the Panthers rushing attack has slipped to 17th in the league.
Following the firing of general manager Marty Hurney on Monday, many changes are expected throughout the organization. One blogger for the Charlotte Observer, Joseph Person, believes that the Panthers are in the process of recreating their offense based on last weeks personnel packages.
This likely coincides with the Panthers shift from the zone read package to more reliance on a power running game," Person writes. "Based on last weeks game against Dallas- when power-running Jonathan Stewart received the bulk of the work its clear the Panthers are trying to re-create themselves offensively.
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While the Panthers have been underwhelming on offense, the team has shown positive signs of things to come defensively. First-round draft pick (ninth overall) Luke Kuechly has exceeded expectations. Originally slated to play outside linebacker, an injury to Jon Beason forced the Panthers to move the former Boston College standout to middle linebacker. The results have been outstanding, as pointed out by Ron Green Jr. of the Observer.
In his two games at middle linebacker, Kuechly has accumulated 34 tackles, 21 of them solo takedowns, wrote Green Jr. Thats reminiscent of the numbers he put up at Boston College, where he became the NCAAs second all-time leading tackler despite leaving after his junior season.
Carolinas defense will have their hands full on the road against the new-look Chicago Bears. In order to succeed, Kuechly and company will need to keep the Bears offense at bay to make up for Chicagos stingy defense that has allowed the fewest points in the NFL through six games.