ATL-CAR grades: Newton earns another big grade as Panthers stay perfect

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Panthers’ 38-0 win over the Falcons.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

(AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

ATL-CAR grades: Newton earns another big grade as Panthers stay perfect

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Panthers’ 38-0 win over the Falcons.

Atlanta Falcons

– The season continues to trend down for Matt Ryan. He’s lost his early season swagger, and a swarming defense like the Panthers weren’t going to let him regain it. He struggled to move the ball downfield, with 24 of his aimed passes going less than 10 yards in the air. He earned his second-lowest grade of the season and featured another interception where he misread the defense.

– It was a tough outing for Robert Alford, who was flagged for three penalties. The good news was they were all declined. The bad news? They were declined because he was beaten in coverage, allowing six of nine passes for 65 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons’ cornerback continued his mix bag of a year with this, his lowest grade of the season.

– Devonta Freeman wasn’t afforded much opportunity running, something that highlighted just how bad a game he had in the passing game. He dropped a pass, fumbled another and was beaten for a sack and a pressure. He won’t enjoy looking back on the tape of what was easily his worst effort of the year.

Top performers:

CB Desmond Trufant (+2.8)
S Kemal Ishmael (+2.2)
DE Tyson Jackson (+1.9)
RT Ryan Schraeder (+1.4)
WR Roddy White (+1.3)
DE Kroy Biermann (+1.3)

Carolina Panthers

– Is there a player performing as well as Cam Newton right now? A fifth consecutive positively graded game and as flawless as any he has played. Newton is a man at the peak of his powers and he didn’t even show off his tremendous mobility in this one with the Falcons diverting extra resource to slowing him down. The most impressive thing is how Newton is always looking downfield and always capable of changing field position in a hurry. He completed eight of 11 passes aimed more 10 yards in the air with precision ball placement.

– After a fantastic start to the year Kawann Short has remained impressive (albeit not as destructive) in recent weeks. That changed against Atlanta where he ended the day with two sacks, a hit and a hurry. He turned those two sacks into forced fumbles and was disruptive against the run, with his ability to penetrate stretching out runs and preventing cutbacks. No denying he’s one of the very best in the league right now.

– While Luke Kuechly is the star of the defense, and Josh Norman and Kawann Short the emerging stars, it’s the veteran Thomas Davis who deserves special praise after this one. He lost outside contain on an early run but game back to show off his game. He picked up a sack on a running back, a hit on a first-round left tackle, forced a fumble on an All-Pro receiver and was all over the short passing game of the Falcons. Davis has been in the league 11 years, and while he’s missed some time to injury (making his achievements all the more remarkable) he’s had the kind of career that really doesn’t get the love it should.

Top performers:

DT Kawann Short (+6.7)
QB Cam Newton (+5.7)
LB Thomas Davis (+4.7)
LB Luke Kuechly (+3.3)
S Kurt Coleman (+3.2)

  • Andrew Wolfson

    Obviously Cam is dealing right now, but you cite how he is “always looking downfield”. Have you guys looked at his OL play? Seems like there is hardly pressure, and he has the time to go downfield nearly every pass.

  • JudoPrince

    :40 mark in the 2nd Quarter, you will see Newton make one of the best throws you will ever see. He throws a sideline laser off his back foot from the Panther’s 35, all the way to the Falcon’s 32, a perfect strike to #10’s. Atlanta’s corner was in a deep zone coverage and allowed the receiver to sort of meander behind him — clearly at a spot where a completion would be impossible. The corner actually reacted well to the throw, drifting back in time to contest, but the ball arrived at a perfect location on the target’s left shoulder.

    Ironically the play before that was a deep sideline throw to the other end, between coverage to #10. The ball was again placed perfectly on the hands although the receiver did not catch it. I’ve read countless articles reverting to Cam’s completion percentage, but I’m telling you, nobody in the league makes these throws as accurately as Newton.

    • Rickn3car

      100% on par my brother. He has gotten better each year and imagine that this “kid” has his number one receiver on the shelf until next year and has made do with guys who were throwaways or lower draft picks. I mean Ted Jr will finish with close to a 1000 yard season and though he will probably top out at 900 yard and 13 TDs he will be brought back back and if they can sign josh Norman then you better believe the number one pick goes to a WR. ( imagine an odb jr on this team and you ate taking dynasty).
      This year is great but next year is what Cam himself said “there’s gonna be hell to pay” following KB’s tear.

      Either we take the NFC trophy this year and maybe the Super Bowl or we win both but next year (if we sign Norman) we will take the Lomnardi trophy easily

      • JudoPrince

        The Panthers have spent the last several years digging out of a cap nightmare, creating space for the future. The tough decisions to cut good players, develop undrafted talent and low draft picks, resisting the urge to sign expensive free agents while finding decent ones for cheap — has all paid off. The Panthers will have enough cap space in the off-season to sign both Kuechly and Norman to long term deals. In 2016 they will should have enough room to sign Kawaan Short to a long term deal.

        Carolina has gotten the most out of the previous two drafts. It’s scary to think what they might come away with in 2016 with all of their picks available. It should only add to any holes they may have now, which aren’t many. I’m thinking a left tackle who can be developed into a franchise player, as well as a pass rushing DE to replace Allen and potentially Charles Johnson. They could even think about a speed back who can create mismatches for Cam out of the backfield like Darren Sproles, Woodhead, Lance Dunbar. Maybe a corner to replace Charles Tillman? They will be in a position of luxury in terms of drafting this year.