I really thought the Panthers would take this one. I really underestimated Arizona’s defense and Carson Palmer’s ability to react to any situation. Also, who would have thought that Andre Ellington would completely gouge our defense? Well anyways, you can read all about that in my Panther game grades!
Quarterbacks – B-
If you really look at Cam Newton’s performance in the game it was completely lopsided. During the first he was on fire. Cam found running room on designed quarterback keeps, threw some real lasers to our receivers, and kept the Panthers in the game on offense. The only mishap he had in the first half was the interception, but our defense held Arizona. However, during the second half things began to fall apart. A few turnovers and bad coverage sealed the game for Arizona. But that wasn’t exactly Cam’s fault and that’s why I gave him a B minus
Receivers – C
Greg Olsen had a great game against Arizona, but besides that the word of the day for the Panther receiving core was drop. Brandon LaFell had a huge 4th-and-1 drop and Steve Smith had a huge TD drop as well. Ted Ginn Jr. showed off some crazy speed though, and Cam really distributed the ball. I would like to see Domenik Hixon get in the mix at some point in the future as well.
Running Backs – C
DeAngelo Williams had a decent game, but it wasn’t anything special like the Giants game was. Mike Tolbert had a good game though, finding some good running room on the few plays that were called for him. Kenjon Barner played in his first NFL game but didn’t exactly put some stats up. All in all, it wasn’t the best game by the running backs.
Offensive Line – D
The offensive line did not hold up at all, and it only got worse after Amini Silatolu became injured. Our line didn’t account for the rush the Cardinals were bringing and left Cam get sacked over five times, something that we were predicting for our own defensive front. Veteran Ryan Kalil let more than a few guys past, something that honestly is new for Kalil.
Defensive Line – B
The defensive line was as disruptive as usual and pressured Palmer constantly. The unit is incredibly deep and is really exciting to watch. Though it wasn’t exactly the show that I was expecting, I was pretty happy with the way the line played. They did nothing wrong, and made some great plays. All in all, it was an above average performance. One thing I want to put emphasis on is the depth of the defensive line. It is astounding the number of great players we have on the roster on the line. It is crazy.
Linebackers – C+
Luke Kuechly is a monster. He did nothing wrong against the Cardinals. He even got an interception so hats off to him. However, Thomas Davis missed some easy open field tackles and Davis and Chase Blackburn left some spots open that Carson Palmer made great use of. It was an average performance from the usually spotless unit.
Secondary – D-
I expected it to be bad, but man, our defensive backs really wet the bed in this one. There were two interceptions during the game and that’s fine and dandy but there was some blown coverage down the line. Our defense as a whole held the Cardinals, but when it came to 3rd-and-long, Carson would air it out and gash our secondary. The unit is relatively young so there is that excuse, though I think excuses are done after that performance.
Special Teams – B+
Our Special Teams played well. Graham Gano is a great player and I am so glad we picked him up and cut ties with Justin Medlock when we did. Brad Nortman had another good day punting. The only bad thing about the special teams was the penalty against Jordan Senn, which should not have been an unsportsmanlike conduct.
Coaching Staff – B
Personally, I thought that Ron Rivera and Co. cooked up some really good schemes. Mike Shula and Sean McDermott had some creative packages, and I loved Shula’s bunch receiver set. The game was not lost by coaching problems, I believe the game was lost by the team we sent out on the field and not the play calling.
So those are my thoughts on the game. I plan to marinate on the game and post another story about the game later; this one is basically impulse feelings. So stay tuned for that! And if you haven’t already, follow me on Twitter @TonySchnikes!