What could have been a glorious return to winning ended up feeling like the same old routine.
On with the grades.
Scoring seven points will not win you any games in the NFL. That said, it is hard to figure how the Panthers only managed to score only seven points. Cam played reasonably well. The offensive line and the running backs looked good. The weakest link of the offense appeared to be options in the passing game not named Steve Smith. Brandon Lafell had the best camp and preseason of his career, yet disappeared when it counted. Tedd Ginn was open from time to time down the field but wasn't seen by Cam.
If I had to put it down to one thing, it would be an overall lack of aggressiveness. The offense appeared happy to slowly move up and down the field with no sense of urgency. The offense did not impose it's will at any time in the second have, merely took what the defense was giving them. Winning offenses attack, they don't settle.
Offensive Grade - D
This defense has me excited. Already, it is easy to see great improvement over last season. Star Lotulelei provided more push up the middle since a guy named Kris Jenkins played for the Panthers. The linebacking trio of Beason, Kuechly, and Davis looked to be the best in the NFC, Charles Godfrey looked great in the safety blitz packages. A few miscues in the secondary cost the Panthers some yardage, but all in all you cannot ask for more. Holding a team who scored 30+ points a game last season to 12 points is a solid performance and a reason for hope.
Defensive Grade - A
Aside from a couple of bone headed penalties from Armond Smith, the Special Teams unit was good. They didn't allow Tate to make any great returns. Nortman's booming punts were a thing of beauty and Gano's kickoffs gave the Panthers great field position. Josh Thomas had a terrible touch on a live ball that kept the Seahawks drive alive.
I am going to break this down into three grades.
Armond Smith - F
Josh Thomas - F
Everyone not named Armond Smith or Josh Thomas- A
Like last season, the Panthers at times looked unprepared and undisciplined. This falls directly on the shoulders of Head Coach Ron Rivera. While his defensive unit looked fantastic, his offensive unit simply did not get it done. The Panthers must have an aggressive attacking mentality on offense if they have any post season hopes this year.
Coaching Grade - C-