With the number one defense in the NFL there’s one thing Carolina Panthers can do to become an even better unit.
“They’re pretty good right now and they are not taking the ball away like their capable. Imagine if we do get that done,” head coach Ron Rivera told reporters during Wednesday’s press conference.
Leading the NFL in defense Panthers are tied for 26th in the league when it comes to takeaways with only eight on the season, with four fumble recoveries and four interceptions. With the offense ranked in the bottom half of the league, 21st ranked, Cam Newton is motivated to improve that, he told reporters during Wednesday’s press conference.
“I take that as a challenge. Its taken us our time to catch up. We’re trying to be the no. 1 offense, why not?” Newton said.
With that said, Newton’s main priority is winning and helping the team play complementary football.
“I only play this game for one reason and one reason only…I just want to win,” Newton said.
One thing the offense had done great this season that has helped their defense is time of possession, Rivera said. Something they did against Atlanta Falcons last week where they only gave their opponent one possession in the third quarter.
“When you’re possessing the ball as well as your offense that’s going to help your defense…that’s why its so important to have those drives that last seven, eight, 10 minutes,” Rivera said.
As for the defensive unit there’s a reason why they’ve played so well together and that’s trust. Trusting that each person on defense is going to do their job comes along way.
“It takes a lot of pressure off,” Rivera said.
Throw in the how the long players on the defensive line have played together, with Julius Peppers the exception as he’s the veteran that’s come and fit right in, the squad know’s each other well.
“You see the specimens going out there each and every drive…all those guys are playing unbelievable team football but as a whole, collectively, we just got to play as a team. Complimentary football,” Newton said.
Heading into week 10 they will host Miami Dolphins (4-4) on Monday Night Football. A game Newton is confident Carolina Panthers (6-3) is rolling into playing good football.
“We’re peaking when we’re suppose to peak,” Newton said. “Come Monday night everybody is juiced up and ready.
“With the veteran leadership we have I feel like we can do no wrong,” Newton said. “Its going to be a big game for us…to prove that we’re the real deal.”
A win would move Panthers to more wins this season than they had all of last season before their week 11 bye week.
“I like the way that this team has been forming together,” Newton said. “Knowing that we haven’t played our best brand of football yet. Defensively, they’ve been giving the offense unbelievable opportunities and we’re going to need that. We just find ways to win football games.”
By Gino Terrell