Grading the Carolina Panthers for Sunday’s game at Chicago:
D Quarterback: Cam Newton overthrew receivers, didn’t see open guys on other occasions and forced throws into coverage on two interceptions, including one that Eddie Jackson returned 76 yards for a touchdown. Newton again led the rushing attack with 50 yards on nine carries.
D Running backs: Jonathan Stewart had a little more running run than he’s been getting, and finished with 48 yards on 14 rushes. Christian McCaffrey again failed to break off any big gains, and averaged just 1.4 yards on seven carries.
D Receivers: Curtis Samuel lost a fumble that Jackson scored on and set a bad early tone. Russell Shepard had a penalty that cost the Panthers a chance at a field goal at the end of the half. But the big picture is this: The wideouts aren’t getting enough separation.
D Offensive line: Losing Ryan Kalil (in the first quarter) and Trai Turner (in the second half) didn’t help. But Newton took the kind of pounding that happened all too often in 2016. The line allowed five sacks and 11 total hits on Newton.
A Defensive line: Kawann Short had a sack and a blocked field goal playing in his hometown. Julius Peppers had goal line stops on successive plays. Mario Addison and Kyle Love added sacks, while Bryan Cox Jr. had two tackles, one for loss.
B Linebackers: Playing without Luke Kuechly, this group did a nice job helping hold Jordan Howard to 65 yards on 21 carries. Shaq Thompson had a team-high six tackles. David Mayo, playing for Kuechly, only had three stops, although one came after he’d lost his helmet.
I Secondary: With Mitch Trubisky only attempting seven passes (and completing four), there wasn’t enough to grade this group. James Bradberry thought he should have had an interception on a low Trubisky throw. Kevon Seymour was beaten by rookie RB Tarik Cohen for a 70-yard catch.
B Special teams: Michael Palardy averaged 52.6 yards on five punts, with a net of 46.2. Graham Gano, playing with an injured knee, made a 36-yard field goal and had two touchbacks. There are still no big plays in the return game.
D Coaching: Failing to score a touchdown against a 2-4 team is inexcusable. Newton wouldn’t say whether the lack of deep throws is a result of Mike Shula not calling them or the receivers not getting open. But it’s time for Shula to shake things up to try to generate some big plays and momentum.