They say that defense wins championships. If that is the case then the Carolina Panthers might be well on their way to a Superbowl is linebacker Luke Kuechly keeps having impressive performances like he has so far this preseason.
When the Panthers took down the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, 34-27, Kuechly put on a defensive clinic, making it incredibly difficult for the Ravens’ offense to get anything going. For starters, Kuechly recorded seven tackles during the game, making four of them on his own. He also managed to intercept a pass and force a fumble, two big plays that decisively halted any momentum the Ravens might have had.
Though his name wasn’t in the marquee last year, Kuechly is far from coming out of nowhere. Last year he recorded a sack, recovered three fumbles for nine yards and pulled in two interceptions. Considering these numbers on top of his performance against the Ravens, Kuechly might be on his way to being a strong defensive force.
After Kuechly’s stunning performance against the Ravens people have started drawing parallels to other greats in the storied position like Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, and after looking at the numbers these comparisons might not be too far-fetched.
Kuechly is just in his second season and when Lewis was at this point in his career he was putting up similar numbers. In his second season Lewis had four sacks, one forced fumble and one interception. Urlacher had six sacks, four forced fumbles and three interceptions. So, while Kuechly’s numbers aren’t quite there, he has an entire season to make that progress. If this game against the Ravens was any indication he may reach similar numbers before all is said and done.
The Panthers take on the Steelers next. Last season the Steelers’ offense wasn’t as strong as in seasons past, so if this trend continues Kuechly may have another game where he can pad his stats. The two teams face off in Aug. 29, 2013.
As the preseason closes out and the regular season progresses, keep an eye on Kuechly and look to him to stifle offenses throughout the NFC South.