Merry Christmas Panthers Fans! It seems you have a NFL caliber team. Most of us are just wishing it happened before playoff elimination in November. On with the grades....
It looks as if Chudzinski is starting to realize his 90% read option offense is a complete joke. Either that, or the injuries to the offensive line are forcing him to abandon the over complicated and ineffective scheme for a more basic approach. It remains to be seen if Chud will return to the masturbatory read option with a healthy offense. Lets hope not.
Cam Newton continues to play like a top QB in this league. Steve Smith is a monster. Heck, even the running game looked good. Overall, the offensive performance was good enough to beat any team in this league.
Offensive Grade: A
As remarkable as the offensive performance was, it may be more so with the defense. Riddled with significant injuries, the defense was able to almost shut out the Chargers if not for a Deangelo WIlliams fumble. Most of this can be credited to the defensive line who took advantage of the Chargers offensive line. Even our backup corners and safety were given the luxury of covering for a very short amount of time.
The prospect of next season with a healthy Beason, Edwards, and Gamble in the mix along with a new free safety is enough to keep our defensive hearts warm all off season.
Defensive Grade: A
Ron Rivera has at times been severely out coached this season. Have the last two games been an anomaly or has he learned and improved as a head coach? We sometimes forget that head coaches, and especially first time Head Coaches, have a learning curve at well. Some point to the success of Tampa Bay or the fast success of Atlanta after hiring college coaches, but those were college head coaches. The learning curve for a NFL coordinator is much greater than that of a Head Coach from a university.
If Rivera can win out, he just may have saved his job. I believe the new Panthers GM will give him another year, but will also require some changes to be made to his staff.
Coaching Grade: A