Panthers could feature NFL’s youngest defense in a decade

The Carolina Panthers are on track to have an incredibly young defense. 

After going a dismal 5-11 last season, the Carolina Panthers are looking to rebuild with their brand new head coach Matt Rhule, who was tapped to replace Ron Rivera after he was fired during the season after starting 5-7.

The Panthers have a long road ahead of them, especially on the defensive side of the ball where they were absolutely abysmal. By the end of last season, Carolina ranked 31st in the NFL in points allowed per game with 29.4. And their run defense ranked 29th in the league, giving up an average of 143.5 yards on the ground per game. 

Enter Rhule who was lured away from Baylor where he completed a massive turnaround, turning them into a team that went 11-1 in last years’ regular season, after going 1-11 in Rhule’s first year in charge.

On top of being tasked with turning the offense around with a new quarterback under center in Teddy Bridgewater, Rhule will also have his hands full trying to win with the Panthers’ defense, which is on track to be the youngest defense the NFL has seen in a decade.

Young defenses typically don’t perform well, but the Panthers can only go up

Heading into the 2020 season, the Panthers only have four returning starters on defense. And the average age of the defensive starters, if rookie safety Jeremy Chinn wins a starting job, will be 23.45 years old, which would be good for the NFL’s youngest defense in the past 10 years.

The only other recent defense that would compare is the Browns’ 2018 defense which had an average age of 24.8. Usually such a young defense is not a recipe for success, and that Browns’ defense ended the season ranked 30th overall in total defense.

Although the Panthers’ defense last season was much more experienced compared to this year, they still struggled mightily, so it looks as if they can only improve from this point forward.

Carolina should also benefit from having players like safety Eli Apple and defensive tackle Kawann Short, who are still young but also have multiple years of NFL experience.

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