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.
– 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.
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)
– 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.
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)