The Carolina Panthers’ vast defensive improvement from 2016 has had plenty to do the team’s 6-3 record.

Veteran safety Mike Adams is one of the new faces to join the unit this year.

‘We’re not playing not to make a mistake’

But he says that he and other players who came aboard during the offseason — such as end Julius Peppers and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn — along with everyone else on the defense have benefitted greatly from the guidance of first-year coordinator Steve Wilks. As far as Adams is concerned, Wilks merits much of the credit for the defense going from 21st in the NFL last year to first.

“The accountability part that Coach Wilks brought to us and me talking to him when I first got here,” Adams said when asked for the main reason for the turnaround during an appearance on Late Hits with Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt. “He stressed accountability, trust, being physical and just playing hard and playing together all the time. And that’s what we’re doing out there. We’re playing aggressively. We’re not playing not to make a mistake and we’re just going hard and it’s paying off for us.

‘We hadn’t been getting turnovers and now we’re starting to (force opponents to) turn the ball over a little bit more’

“Earlier, we hadn’t been getting turnovers and now we’re starting to (force opponents to) turn the ball over a little bit more. And hopefully those things start coming in bunches.”

Adams acknowledges that he and his teammates were well aware of the low expectations that many pundits had for the Panthers before the season.

‘We see that stuff, we hear that stuff, even though we say we’ve got to focus on us’

“We see that stuff, we hear that stuff, even though we say we’ve got to focus on us and focus on the task at hand,” he said. “(But) that’s what we’ve got to do because there’s nobody that’s going to believe in us but us. And we realize that, so we’re just going to keep this thing going.”

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