(Photo: Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports)

The Panthers were one of the NFL's blitz-happiest teams during the 2017 season, and their bold strategy didn't pay off the majority of the time.

According to some recently-compiled numbers from Football Outsiders, the Panthers brought a blitz - categorized as five or more rushers sent on one play - 42.7 percent of the time last season, a mark that led the NFL (no other team was above 40 percent). But even with all those extra blitzers, the Panthers ranked only 16th in forced pressure among blitzing teams. While being towards the middle of the pack isn't necessarily bad on the surface, it is when you rank at the very top in the amount of times you attempted to force that pressure by bringing extra blitzers.

To make a long story short, there was a reason why the Panthers allowed so many explosive plays during the 2018 season. When they blitzed multiple extra rushers, a large chunk of the time it didn't work, leaving more holes to exploit on the back-end of the defense.

But when Carolina elected to rush only four at a time with its 4-3 scheme, and lay back the other seven defenders into coverage, the Panthers were much more successful. The Panthers got pressure on opposing quarterbacks 32 percent of snaps when they sent their routine four-man pass-rush, good for the seventh-best mark in the NFL.

Oddly enough, one extra rusher made a big difference for the Panthers. When they sent just three men after the opposing quarterback, Carolina was among the least efficient teams in the league at creating chaos for the opposing offense. Carolina's three-man rush produced pressure only 18.2 percent of the time it was attempted. After all, there was a reason the Panthers only sent three on 1.9 percent of their defensive snaps last season.

Overall, it seems clear the Panthers have enough talent in the trenches to do damage with a traditional pass-rush. Kawann Short is an elite interior defensive pass-rusher, while veterans Julius Peppers and Mario Addison can be great off the edges at times, too. To make matters worse for opponents, the Panthers replaced the loss of subpar pass-rusher Star Lotulelei with another solid one in former Pro Bowler Dontari Poe.

So while new defensive coordinator Eric Washington might be tempted to stay aggressive and dial up the pressure packages like Wilks did last season, the above numbers show that it isn't always the best idea.

Some potential bad news for the Panthers? Washington hinted earlier this offseason he plans to keep such of the same attacking style as Wilks utilized.

“It starts with a desire to create negative plays. We desire to get an offense off-schedule. That really starts with how our defensive line plays,” Washington told Sports Illustrated in June. “Regardless of how many people we send or don’t send, those guys are going to attack and be disruptive. That’s the why. The how just comes philosophically with what we have available to us. We feel we have the best front seven in the National Football League starting with our front four. Whether we attack an offense with four guys or we send a fifth guy, we feel we have guys we can really help us and generate some of the things we need to be an efficient defense.”

Washington could potentially be sharing coach speak to keep the team's opponents on their toes heading into the season. Or he could be dead serious, and it's possible the Panthers will blitz as much as it did last season going forward under his watch. Only time will tell, but one has to believe the Panthers' coaching staff sees these same numbers as they prepare for the coming season.