Grading the Carolina Panthers for Sunday’s game at New Orleans.
B+ Quarterback: Cam Newton threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns and was the Panthers’ leading rusher with 51 yards on six carries. Newton underthrew Damiere Byrd on a fourth-quarter pass that should have been a touchdown.
C Running backs: Christian McCaffrey had a 21-yard catch-and-run for his fourth receiving TD of the season. But McCaffrey’s other four receptions netted only 12 yards. Jonathan Stewart averaged 4.1 yards a carry.
C Receivers: Devin Funchess didn’t catch a pass until late in the third quarter, and finished with four for 60 yards. There weren’t enough explosive pass plays facing a secondary that was missing top cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
D Offensive line: Left tackle Matt Kalil had his hands full with Cameron Jordan. The DE didn’t have a sack, but that’s only because Kalil twice grabbed his facemask when he was getting beaten. The line’s run blocking was good early, not so much late.
C Defensive line: DE Mario Addison was productive vs. LT Andrus Peat, sacking Drew Brees once and hitting him two other times. DT Kyle Love also had a sack. But Julius Peppers had a costly penalty and the run defense was poor.
B Linebackers: Luke Kuechly had a game-high nine tackles (two for loss), a quarterback hit and a fumble recovery. Thomas Davis, who played sparingly because of a hamstring injury, only had two tackles.
D Secondary: Safety Kurt Coleman had a couple of critical missed tackles on Kamara – on a 18-yard gain and a 20-yard TD. Mike Adams forced a fumble with a “Peanut punch” on TE Josh Hill. Daryl Worley dropped a would-be INT.
F Special teams: Michael Palardy dropped the ball on a first-half punt, giving the Saints a short field they cashed in for a TD. He averaged only 43.0 yards on the ones he didn’t drop. A week after his punt return for a TD, Kaelin Clay fumbled on a fourth-quarter return.
D Coaching: Offensive coordinator Mike Shula did not call many running plays for Newton. Defensively, the Panthers allowed way too many explosive plays, especially in the run game. As a result, the Panthers’ NFC South hopes took a serious hit.