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News » Carolina Panthers Inside Slant 2009-05-08


Carolina Panthers Inside Slant 2009-05-08


Carolina Panthers Inside Slant 2009-05-08
Don't expect a lot of blitzing from new defensive coordinator Ron Meeks this season.


"We'll have some schemes where we can bring some pressure from the back seven," Meeks said. "We'll blitz some, but it's not going to be driven by that. It's going to be driven by a good solid system that's going to allow us to be successful."

Meeks plans to find more traditional ways to pressure the quarterback and still views defensive end Julius Peppers as a big part of the team's plans. Peppers was tagged as the team's franchise player and did not attend the team's rookie minicamp because he hopes to be traded.

"Obviously in certain situations you want to be able to pressure the quarterback," Meeks said. "I think this is a quarterback-driven league, so you want to make sure that you're getting pressure on him and don't let him dictate the result in a negative way.

"I think the front four is the starting point. The running game, obviously you want to stop the run. In your front seven, you want have good people up front that can keep those people tight. We have a special guy with special talents in Peppers. Also Tyler Brayton is a guy that can get pressure. We went into the draft looking at some guys that can give us obvious pressure. We think Everette Brown can be one of those guys."

Meeks took over as defensive coordinator of the Panthers in January and it didn't take long before he delivered a message to his new players -- play aggressive.

"He wants guys that are reckless, flying around, competing on every play," said Pro Bowl linebacker Jon Beason. "If you're not that type of guy, you're not going to play on this defense. People got the message real fast."

That mirrors the way Meeks played during his tenure as a defensive back in the Canadian Football League.

If nothing else Meeks was aggressive and never shied away from contact. Although 26 years removed from his playing days, Meeks still looks like a guy who could lay a hit on you if you crossed the middle. At 54, he keeps himself in great shape.

In practice he can regularly be seen in the thick of the huddle, animatedly instructing his players rather than standing and watching from a distance.

In short, Meeks brings energy.

"Well, that's what it's all about, isn't it? You identify yourself with how you practice and how you play," Meeks said Saturday in his first interview since being hired in January to replace Mike Trgovac. "Instead of talking about, you've got to try to do it. We try to have an up-tempo kind of thing. I think it's going to be good for the guys."

But what about the scheme?

Make no doubt it, coach John Fox's fingerprints will still be all over this year's defense just as they were when Trgovac was here.

And, from a schematic standpoint, the Panthers won't be doing all that much different than they did last year. They'll still run a 4-3 defense. They'll still play some Tampa Two, and they'll still look to pressure the quarterback.

And while Carolina fans might be craving more blitzes, Meeks prefers to hang his hat on solid, consistent defense.

Meeks said his focus will be on using the "skill set" of the players he has to work with, which may mean using less Tampa Two zone coverage than he ran while the defensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts.

"Obviously we've had some success with this system in Indianapolis. Working under Tony Dungy, obviously I picked up there and I thought that was a big influence in what I'm doing," Meeks said. "But also, we want to make sure we're doing the things that can magnify and produce some good results based on the skill-set that we have. I think these guys have done some great job here with the personnel and some of the things they have done."

The Panthers had 37 sacks last season, including 14.5 from Peppers.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 8, 2009

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