The Panthers are 1-6 in what now feels like another lame duck season. Sometimes tough losses in close games sting more than a blowout. On with the grades....
The offense looked adequate and at times very good. Cam Newton threw for over 300 yards and the Panthers scored enough points that a win was possible.
For those of you blaming Cam for the loss, please start paying attention and learning about the game. Often the quarterback is the convenient scapegoat on the team. Cam Newton has a bright future in this league given adequate coaching. More on that later.
Offensive Grade: B-
The execution of the defense was solid. The Panthers front 4 was able to get plenty of pressure on Cutler and dictated the game in the first half. Fans are starting to see a new nucleus develop on this team in Kuechly, Alexander, Hardy, Norman. Those four guys will be making plays for the Panthers for years to come.
Defensive Grade: B
Aside from a muffed punt, the Special teams was excellent Nortman going 5 for 5 on field goals in a windy stadium will raise his confidence level ten fold. Expect good things from him for years to come.
Special Teams Grade: A-
With the grades above, one would think the Panthers won the game. They would have, given adequate coaching when it counted the most.
With under a minute to go and a slim lead, Ron Rivera decided to go against what had been working the entire game, and decided on a soft zone defense that exposed Josh Norman on an island against Brandon Marshall. The Bears called the same play, not once, not twice, not three times, but four times. FOUR TIMES with easy completions to bring the Bears within field goal range.
In his press conference, Rivera stated that was his decision. The reason was Rivera wanted to keep things in front of the team, no big plays. But with only a field goal needed to win, why was there such a concern with a big touchdown play? Had the Bears completed one all game long? The one attempt was intercepted by Josh Norman.
In short, Rivera handed the game to the Bears through dismal decision making. He won't be in Carolina for the 2013 season.
Another lame duck season.
Coaching Grade: F-