Joseph Person grades the Carolina Panthers for Sunday’s game at Seattle.
D Quarterback: Cam Newton threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. for the Panthers’ only score. But any talk of Newton’s production – or lack thereof – was overshadowed by his benching by coach Ron Rivera for a dress code violation.
D Running backs: Fullback Mike Tolbert didn’t do Derek Anderson any favors by letting Anderson’s pass – on the first play of the game – bounce off his hands, allowing linebacker Mike Morgan to intercept it. Jonathan Stewart averaged 4.5 yards a carrry, but lost a fumble.
C- Receivers: Ginn turned in another good game with five catches for 80 yards and the touchdown. Kelvin Benjamin only had two receptions on nine targets, but he had one of the Panthers’ best defensive plays, breaking up what would have been a Seahawks interceptions.
B- Offensive line: No, the Panthers’ beat-up offensive line didn’t play particularly well. There were a couple of penalties and missed blocks, but they somehow held the Seahawks without a sack. That should count for something.
D Defensive line: Kony Ealy and Charles Johnson each had a sack and Wes Horton added a half-sack, but the front four did a terrible job shedding blocks, allowing Thomas Rawls to run for 100-plus yard and two touchdowns.
D Linebackers: Like the defensive line, the Panthers’ linebackers too often stayed blocked or took poor pursuit angles. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was animated while coaching from the sideline. Still no word on when or if Kuechly will return from the concussion protocol.
F Secondary: Safety Michael Griffin, forced to start because of Kurt Coleman’s concussion, was out of position and took a bad angle on Tyler Lockett’s long touchdown run. No one else in the back end played particularly well, either. Russell Wilson completed 26 of 36 for 277 yards and a touchdown.
D Special teams: Lockett had a 46-yard kickoff return and a 10-yard punt return. David Mayo entered the concussion protocol after getting drilled while covering a kickoff early in the game. He became eighth player to be placed in protocol since Week 1.
F Coaching: Rivera wanted to come out West for “two reasons – and two reasons only.” The Panthers went 0-for-2 and were embarrassed by the Seahawks. Rivera tried to send a message to the rest of the team by benching Newton. This season had come unraveled.