Panthers All Time team: Defense
To celebrate the Panthers 20th season of football, I am putting together the best Cats lineup I can. Here is the Defense and Head Coach of my All Time panthers Team.
DE- Julius Peppers- I think he might be the best ever Carolina Panther regardless of position. I know he is the biggest physical freak to ever play for the Cats. He averaged 10 sacks a game for his career here and went to 5 Pro Bowls. Sure, he left in an ugly fashion, and many question his motor, but the guy made plays.
DT- Kris Jenkins- If he could have stayed healthy and kept his head on straight, he could have been one of the 3 best Panthers ever (along with Pep and Smitty). He went to 3 Pro Bowls in his 5 healthy seasons with Carolina. And, he was dominant on the Panthers great Super Bowl D-Line of 2003.
DT- Brentson Buckner- Speaking of that great D-Line. Buck was a savvy veteran leader of that group. Buck played 5 seasons with the Panthers. He was a part of a strong Defense for 5 playoff wins , one Super Bowl and 2 NFC Title games. I will admit this spot will probably go to Star in a few years.
DE- Charles Johnson- CJ just put together the best 4 year run of any Panther pass rusher ever. He has 44 sacks in those 4 seasons. He brings quiet leadership and is a dude that will bring it every play regardless of situation. An example of that was how he battled through the knee injury vs NE last year.
OLB- Kevin Greene- I will overlook that Kevin Steele debacle and talk numbers. In 3 years with the Panthers, Greene recorded 41 sacks for an average of almost 14 a year. He flat out got to the QB and he was a huge part of the 1996 team and their run to the NFC Title Game.
MLB- Luke Keuchly- Sure he might have only played two years, but what an awesome couple of years it has been. He is the only guy other than Lawrence Taylor to win Def. Rookie of the Year and Def. Player of the Year in back to back seasons. He was the leader of what I think is the best Defense in Cats history in 2013. Apologies to Dan Morgan, Sam Mills and Jon Beason, but Luke is the man.
OLB- Thomas Davis- What a LB and what an inspirational leader. He has come back from 3 torn ACLs to play even better than before. His season in 2013 was Pro Bowl caliber. He affects the game in so many ways: run stopping, pass coverage and blitzing. I gave him this spot over Will Witherspoon and Lamar Lathon.
CB- Chris Gamble- The Panthers all time leader in Interceptions. He is one of the most underrated and underappreciated Panthers in my time here in the QC. Gamble’s 2011 is arguably the best year a CB has ever had here in Carolina. He was 3rd in the NFL in yards per route in coverage according to Pro Football Focus.
CB- Eric Davis- ED is the best CB to ever play in the QC. He made the Pro Bowl here in 1996 while helping lead the Cats to the NFC Title Game. He had 5 Interceptions in each of his 5 seasons with the Panthers. He was a play maker who could flat out cover.
S- Mike Minter- He was a leader and a flat out hitter who is also 3rd all time in Interceptions in Panther history. He had 2 pick sixes during the Cats great 2003 regular season that led to the Super Bowl appearance. And, he played in that big game for over a quarter with a broken bone in his foot. No doubt the best panther Safety ever.
S- Deon Grant– rangy safety was a great compliment to Minter during the 2003 Super Bowl run. Also considered Chad Cota who’s big Interception in 1996 clinched a playoff birth.
Head Coach- John Fox- Sure the 3rd down draws and clichés got old, but he has been by far the most successful coach the team has had to date. He has 3 of the team’s 5 playoff births and 5 of the 7 playoff wins. And, of course, the lone Super Bowl appearance came on his watch.