Decision time for Panthers

October, 10, 2012
10/10/12
12:00
PM ET
As they go through their bye week, the struggling Carolina Panthers face a major decision that could have long-term implications on their franchise.

Do they put veteran Jon Beason back at middle linebacker? Or do they go with rookie Luke Kuechly in the middle and let Beason play the outside?

SportsNation

Who should the Carolina Panthers use as their starting middle linebacker coming out of the bye?

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    27%
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    73%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,960)

It’s a decision the Panthers had to make previously. After they drafted Kuechly, they let Beason go through the offseason program to see how he was recovering from a torn Achilles tendon before making the decision to start the season with him in the middle and the rookie on the outside.

I got the logic at the time. Beason was the veteran and it only made sense to let him run the defense. But I think the decision should be different this time around.

That’s due to the way the season started. Beason had some problems with missed tackles and was bothered by nagging injuries. Kuechly seemed a little out of place on the outside.

When Beason wasn’t able to play in Sunday’s loss to Seattle, the Panthers shifted Kuechly to the middle. The rookie wasn’t perfect, but he responded with 16 tackles and an interception.

Carolina’s defense hasn’t been very good this season. That’s why I say it’s time to go with Kuechly in the middle and put Beason on the outside, where he has played some in the past.

When something’s not working, you have to shake things up and hope for the best. That’s what the Panthers have to do because, if the losing continues, a lot of people are going to be on the hot seat.

The only way to get off the hot seat is to show improvement. There’s a belief that Kuechly’s best long-term position is middle linebacker and he should keep improving each game he plays inside.

So play him there the rest of the season and see what happens. That move should make the defense better, simply because it can’t get much worse.

Let’s hear your thoughts on whether Beason or Kuechly should start in the middle. Cast your vote in the SportsNation poll and explain your vote in the comments section below.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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