Overall the team looked very good, rookies included. Barring a few mistakes I am incredibly impressed with the Panthers this past Sunday. There were times when I saw glimpses of the Panthers of 2010, but they quickly regrouped and gave the Cardinals one hell of a game. So, check back after the break as I hand out a few grades, a few gold stars, and a few strikes.
Cam Newton QB: A+
Not much I can say about Cam that hasn’t been said by every major media outlet. The kid looked amazing. He had a few rookie mistakes, but he made up for those with 422 yards passing. (Rookie debut record).
Charles Johnson DE: A-
His sack was a great way to start the season. He added four more tackles and did fairly well, with two of the four tackles being for a loss. He could have done better in helping stop the run.
Steve Smith WR: A
He’s back!!!! Smith looked like he was 24 again. He was beating coverage, and making spectacular catches. Hopefully he can keep beating coverage, because the ball is coming his way.
Thomas Davis LB: B
7 tackles and 4 solo tackles. Davis had an outstanding game it almost seemed as he was all over the field. With Beason out for the season expect Davis to take over the defense and shine.
Chris Gamble CB: A
3 receptions 62 yards and 0 touchdowns: That is what Gamble held Pro Bowl WR Larry Fitzgerald to. Gamble had one bad coverage play, but otherwise he kept Fitz in check. All the questions about Gamble have been answered: He still has it in him.
Carolina O-Line: C
While Cam threw for 422 yards, he faced pressure all day and succumb to 4 sacks. Newton was throwing in a hurry quite often, and the O-Line was having trouble giving him time to set up in the pocket. Losing Geoff Schwartz may have been a bigger deal than we thought.
There were only three gold stars to hand out this week. Obviously Cam Newton gets one for his outstanding rookie debut. Chris Gamble also receives a gold star for holding Fitz to low numbers. The last gold star goes to Head Coach Ron Rivera for showing the nation his Panthers are not a team to be walked over.
I was disappointed in a few players this week and therefore they are receiving strikes for the week. Strike 1 goes to Double Trouble. On 19 carries they only had 56 yards.(May be O-line blocking problems) Strike Number 2 goes to Terrell McClain. The rookie was held to 1 tackle and did nothing to help stop the run. Strike 3 goes to Legedu Naanee. Naanee was target 5 times by Newton and only had 1 catch. As I remember Newton overthrew him at least once. Also, Naanee missed a few critical blocks that could have kept our drive alive.
Overall, it was a loss but there is nothing to be disappointed about. Our #1 QB now holds a record, and proved to the world that we aren’t the team from 2010. Expect even crazier results this season as long as Chudzinski has the reins. And, if you look at the grades: THEY PASSED!