Oct 13, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Members of the Carolina Panthers special teams line up against the Minnesota Vikings for a punt wearing pink to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Panthers win 35-10. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers Position Group Grades

When the Panthers win, we win big! Today’s game was a “no doubter.” The first drive of the game set the tone for this one. The Panthers played about as good as you can against a formidable threat in Adrian Peterson. There was a small contingent of supposed Panther fans that listened to Rodney Harrison and were calling for the benching of Cam Newton in favor of Derek Anderson, boo to them for thinking of removing the Panthers best weapon from the lineup. This Panthers team led by Cam is at their best when running the ball. Today the gameplan was to run the ball and Cam was included in that; it helped to get him going. Well speaking of Cam, I’ll start handing out grades with No.1.

Oct 13, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) runs for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback: A+

Cam Newton- 77 percent completion percentage, 242 yards and three touchdowns through the air combined with 30 yards and another score on the ground will warrant an “A” grade. This game reminded me of Cam in his rookie year. I know I’m hoping this game will give offensive coordinator Mike Shula the blueprint for how to use Cam and the run game for the rest of this season.

Running Backs: B+

The backs today were not spectacular but they were effective especially in short yardage and down on the goal line. DeAngelo Williams led all rushers with 64 yards and Mike Tolbert added two touchdowns. Carolina was consistent with its play calling today choosing to give the running backs a total of 46 touches between rushing attempts and receptions. First time this year we have utilized both Tolbert and Williams so effectively.

Receivers: A

This group had a lot of making up to do after last weeks debacle. They were very effective and Brandon LaFell again looked like he could be a potential No. 2 receiving option. He shows flashes of potential but is horribly inconsistent. Greg Olsen played well for being less than 100 percent and Steve Smith was his normal fiery self.

Offensive Hog Mollies: B+

This was supposed to be the Panthers weak spot today. After losing Amini Silatolu for the year with a torn ACL, the Panthers were thin at best along the offensive front. These guys showed up today and they came to play. The line was good when running the ball and did well when Cam dropped back to pass. I can’t say Cam did not see any pressure today, but the pass blocking was light years better than last week. I certainly hope this group continues to gel and come together.

Defensive Hog Mollies: A+

This group has been a bright spot all year. The fact Peterson was held in check today can be attributed to the play of this group. When they were not corralling Peterson themselves, they were keeping the Viking lineman off of the linebackers and allowing them to make plays. The play of Star Lotulelei and Kawaan Short has been much better than that of typical rookies. We have a talented group here.

Oct 13, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Carolina Panthers safety Mike Mitchell (21) intercepts a pass during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Panthers defeated the Vikings 35-10. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Linebackers: A

What a game by Thomas Davis today. He was playing like a man possessed. Nine total tackles, two sacks, and at least one pass defended makes for an “A” grade. These guys were all over the field. We certainly have some dynamic playmakers in this bunch. I believe we will continue to see the development of our linebacking corps into one of the premiere groups in the entire NFL.

Secondary: A+

Dave Gettleman has done wonders with our secondary. He came to this team and we seemed destined to have a miserable group of defensive backs. With very little cap room and some shrewd cap moves we have seen our group of rag tag defensive backs flourish into a more than respectable bunch. Mike Mitchell gets my vote for player of the game. Two interceptions and a sack  is a formula for game MVP every week. Great job of defending an underrated group of Viking receivers. I like what I see from these guys and they are showing some quality depth too. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has himself a pleasant surprise in this defensive backfield.

All in all it was an impressive showing by Carolina today. The offense was hitting on all cylinders and the defense was stout. The defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher since Jamaal Charles ran for 127 yards back in 2012. A trend likely to continue considering how tough these guys are to run on. Let’s hope we can build on this momentum and get on a roll for the next several weeks.

Follow me on Twitter @JoeRiollano


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