The perfect way to describe the quarterbacks last night is as a mixed bag: while there plenty of good moments for the quarterbacks, there were also moments that left you wondering what these guys were thinking. Cam Newton was having a decent day until he was intercepted when he tried to force the ball to Greg Olsen. Part of the reason why Newton could have partially struggled could have been Shula’s safe and vanilla play calling of only short passes, Newton’s greatest weakness. Hopefully Shula will call plays that fit Newton’s strengths once the regular season starts, or else this offense will be in trouble. Derek Anderson, on the other hand, had an all around atrocious day. He was consistently out of sync with his receivers, especially Ted Ginn Jr. It was painful to watch him play last night, and he better watch out, or else his back-up position will soon to belong to Clausen. Jimmy Clausen had a much better day. He consistently hit his target, and his arm strength is much improved from when he first arrived in the league. Look for Clausen to take second-team reps by the end of preseason.
Overall Grade: C+
The Panthers came out of the gate with a power run game. There were little to no handoffs out of the shotgun. While DeAngelo Williams only had 10 yards on 5 carries, those numbers are largely skewed due to a couple big losses due to offensive line incompetence. After Williams came out of the game, Tauren Poole received most of the second quarter carries. Poole had 23 yards on 9 carries, but like Williams, numbers don’t tell the whole story with him. Poole had several nice 4-5 yard runs and also an 11 yard rush, however he also had his yardage decrease with a couple of big losses on runs. Kenjon Barner made his NFL debut, and besides the ball handling issues, he looked quite good. While fumbling is never a good thing, he seems like the type of guy who will be
determined to fix this issue. Despite his size, Barner runs with toughness. At one point during a kickoff, he even trucked a defender to the ground. Barner will be a valuable player for the Panthers moving forward. Armond Smith also had a few nice carried rushing for 17 yards on 5 carries, which included a 13 yard rush.
Overall Grade: B
The Wide Receivers had an overall nice game. Armanti Edwards made plays like was in camp, David Gettis showed he still has some of the skill he had his rookie year, and Brandon LaFell showed why he’s our number two receiver. The only receiver who I was disappointed with was Ted Ginn Jr. Despite being targeted seven times, Ginn only had one reception. While some of the blame should be on Derek Anderson, it has to be assumed that Ginn had some fault in that too. Joe Adams also had a nice punt return on the day, however he didn’t see much time at wide receiver.
Overall Grade: A-
The tight ends only combined for two catches, however they had a big impact on the game. Greg Olsen drew a pass interference call near the end zone that set the Panthers up for a touchdown three plays later. Ben Hartsock had a reception for three yards, but he also made an impact blocking. Brandon Williams, a first year player out of Oregon, had an impressive catch for 24 yards. Williams is making a strong push for a roster spot, and may even end up being the number two tight end on the depth chart by the end of the season.
Overall Grade: B+
It’s hard to judge the offensive line this game due to Julius Peppers being out and Henry Melton leaving early due to a concussion. However, several things still stood out. Byron Bell was abused almost every passing play, Jordan Gross looked solid, and Garry Williams looks like he could be serviceable at the starting right guard position. The offensive line has a whole looked better than expected, and tight ends were used to help out Byron Bell to cover up his weaknesses. Only one sack was allowed by the O-line. However, the line did not look to great on running plays, and allowed 7 tackles for losses. The offensive line is still the biggest weakness on the team, and should be upgraded, especially at the right tackle position, before the regular season starts.
Overall Grade: C+
The defensive line was the best part of the Panthers last night. The two rookies, Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short looked as good as advertised; the two star defensive ends looked good too. The defensive line had 5 of the 7 sacks by the defense on the night. Louis Nzegwu, Craig Roh, and Mario Addison all looked especially good on the night, and they will all be fighting for the 4th and 5th defensive end spots on the depth chart.
Overall Grade: A+
The linebackers had an average night. Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis looked good, AJ Klein and Chase Blackburn will be good depth players, however outside of those four, no one really stood out. Jason Williams had a sack, however he constantly put himself out of position to make plays. However, the linebackers still remain one of the Panthers best position groups.
Overall Grade: C+
Josh Norman and Anderson Russell were the two lone standouts for last night’s game. Norman has to INTs, including one for a TD. Russell had seven tackles, a force fumble, and a fumble recovery. No one outside of these guys stood out. The Panthers allowed the backup quarterback to go 15/18 for 194 yards. That shouldn’t happen.
Overall Grade: C
Kickers and Punters
Both Graham Gano and Brad Nortman had great days. Gano nailed a fifty yarder and looked great on kickoffs. Nortman had 2 punts for a 53.3 yard average. It was an encouraging night for the Panthers kicking game
Overall Grade: A+