Joseph Person grades the Carolina Panthers for Monday’s game against Tampa Bay.
D Quarterback: Derek Anderson did not throw an interception in two victories against the Bucs in 2014. But he threw two on Monday – including a killer in the end zone when the Panthers had first-and-goal at the 1 midway through the fourth quarter. Anderson also lost a fumble.
B Running backs: Cameron Artis-Payne ran hard, protected the ball and finished with 85 yards (on 18 carries) and the Panthers’ only two scores. Fozzy Whittaker averaged 9 yards a carry. Fullback Mike Tolbert missed a block and was a non-factor as a ball-carrier.
B Receivers: Tight end Greg Olsen caught eight passes for 181 yards, tied for the fourth-highest, single-game receiving total in franchise history. Olsen had six catches of 20 yards or longer. Kelvin Benjamin caught five passes for 70 yards and had a nice block on one of Artis-Payne’s touchdown runs. Devin Funchess remains invisible.
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B- Offensive line: The Panthers did not allow Anderson to be sacked and led the way for a 136-yard rushing game. Mike Remmers had another penalty – a false start – before Graham Gano’s missed 43-yard field goal at the end of the first half.
D Defensive line: Kyle Love, who was cut in preseason and joined the team two weeks ago, now has more sacks (1.5) than any other defensive lineman. That’s an issue. DE Kony Ealy had a facemask penalty on the Bucs’ final drive to get Roberto Aguayo 15 yards closer for his game-winning 38-yarder.
C Linebackers: Luke Kuechly had a game-high 11 tackles but was beaten by tight end Cameron Brate on a 38-yard catch. Thomas Davis tried to play through a hamstring injury but did not look like himself. Shaq Thompson added seven tackles.
C- Secondary: The new-look secondary wasn’t awful, but the defensive backs didn’t make plays on the ball during the Bucs’ game-winning drive. Rookie corner Daryl Worley gave up 26-yard touchdown to Mike Evans, who beat him with a stop-and-go. Safety Kurt Coleman had a shot at a fumble recovery, but couldn’t come up with it.
F Special teams: Gano missed a field goal. Ted Ginn muffed a punt and Andy Lee was off his game (but he did draw a timely roughing the kicker penalty).
D Coaching: The Panthers have dug themselves a huge hole, one that only six percent of teams that have started 1-4 since 1990 have crawled out of to make the playoffs. Mike Shula tried to keep the game plan safe for Derek Anderson, but it was too safe at times. Super Bowl 50 seems like a long time ago.