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Panthers coach Ron Rivera thinks Carolina defense is ‘faster than it has ever been’

The Carolina Panthers defense wasn’t bad this past season, but it wasn’t great either, as the Panthers finished the year ranked 15th in total defense and 19th in scoring defense.

However, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera seems to be expecting bigger things from Carolina’s defensive unit in 2019, saying that the defense “is faster than it has ever been,” according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Charlotte Observer.

The Panthers are coming off of a disappointing 2018 campaign in which they won just seven games and missed the playoffs for the first time for only the second time since 2013.

Carolina actually got off to a 6-2 start on the year, but Cam Newton then began experiencing shoulder issues, which caused the Panthers to take a nosedive in the second half and go 1-7 over their final eight games. Newton’s shoulder became such an issue that he was shut down for the last two games of the regular season, and nine of his 13 interceptions came over his final six starts.

The Panthers have been one of the league’s most inconsistent teams over the last six years, as they have posted win totals of 12, seven, 15, six, 11 and seven from 2013 through 2018, respectively. Carolina made it all the way to the Super Bowl in 2015, which also represented an MVP season for Newton. However, the following season, the Panthers went just 6-10.

Not many have high expectations for Carolina heading into 2019, as the New Orleans Saints are the class of the NFC South and the Atlanta Falcons look primed for a better year.