The Carolina Panthers once again squeaked out a victory against an inferior opponent, this time the Dallas Cowboys. Somehow the Panthers can always make a game stressful to watch. I am sure most Panthers fans agree. The win was far from convincing, but it was a win no less. Here is how I would grade out the Carolina Panthers performance.
Early in the game the Panthers offense showed much promise. They were moving the ball well against a mediocre Dallas Cowboys defense. Then, when it mattered most Christian McCaffrey fumbled near the goal line. Not everyone believes in momentum, but I sure as heck do. This was a deflating moment instead of one to build upon.
Overall, I felt McCaffrey was the second best running back on the field. I would love to see CJ Anderson get the bulk of the carries next week in Atlanta. Anderson averaged five yards per touch, I will take that all day and twice on Sunday.
Although the offensive coordinator has changed, a few things stayed the same. First, Cam Newton is still 90% of the Carolina Panthers offense. Without Cam’s running ability yesterday’s game would have gone in the L column. Another thing that has not changed is the lack of killer instinct. The offense still tends to be timid when I feel they should be more aggressive and put the game away. One can only conclude that this conservative play is all Ron Rivera and independent of whoever is calling the offensive plays.
Devin Funchess did not looked like a guy that deserved a big pay check this upcoming offseason. He looks more like a guy that can be easily replaced via free agency. Funchess will need to improve a great deal if he expects to cash in.
Offensive Grade – C
Luckily for the Carolina Panthers, the defense was on point for most of the game. Safety Mike Adams may have had his most impressive game as a Carolina Panther. Adams played a key role in containing Ezekiel Elliott. Adams was able to make more than one open field tackle that possibly saved a touchdown and in turn the entire game.
Luke Kuechly had eleven solo tackles, more than doubling Shaq Thompson who had second most with five. The comparisons of Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee to Kuechly are some of the more unsubstantiated in the league. I am not exactly sure why it is made so often. Lee ended the game with a single solo tackle.
Overall, the Carolina Panthers held their opponent to under 10 points. In the NFL, that is a major accomplishment against any team. Their grade reflects that fact.
Defensive Grade – A
The Carolina Panthers special teams was mostly positive for the day. I liked what I saw from Damiere Byrd on returns. Byrd gave the Carolina Panthers key field position when they needed it most. However, not getting an extra point is inexcusable. It kept the Cowboys within two scores for the entire game. Get it fixed.
Special Teams Grade – D+Agree? Disagree? You can sound off right here with thousands of Carolina Panthers fans.