The Panthers almost rushed for 200 yards for the second time this season against the Atlanta Falcons, and the team will need to improve its rush defense if they want to go deep in the playoffs.
The Carolina Panthers rushed for 195 yards on Sunday during their 30-20 win over the Atlanta Falcons, using quarterback Cam Newton and zone-read runs to cut up the Falcons defense. Several other teams in the NFC utilize zone-read runs, and it's quite likely that the Falcons could see those teams in the playoffs. Defensive end John Abraham doesn't think it will be a problem:
"I don’t think the read option really bothered us," said Abraham on Monday. "Cam just ran a good play into a blitz and things happen. Sometimes you do good things and they show up. It was just a good play by him and good play-calling by them. I don’t think that the read option is a big deal for us."
The Falcons are 23rd in the NFL in rush defense, and allow 127 yards per game on the ground. Two teams they may see in the playoffs, the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers, are ranked first and second, respectively, in rushing offense. Zone read or not, Atlanta will need to perform better against the run to win those games.