CAR-TB Grades: Career day for CB Josh Norman
Here are the top takeaways from Sunday’s Carolina-Tampa Bay game, including the highest-graded players from each team:
— Cornerback Josh Norman (+4.3) set the tone for the Panthers yesterday, picking off Jameis Winston (-6.7) in the first quarter and taking it back to the house for a score. While that play highlighted his performance, he made several other big plays leading to the best grade of his career. Norman was targeted eight times and allowed only two receptions for 31 yards. That, combined with his two interceptions and two pass defenses, led to Winston having a passer rating of 3.6 when targeting Norman on Sunday.
— Carolina made two defensive end acquisitions last week, and while many expected Jared Allen (-4.5), whom the team traded for, to make the big plays and bring the pressure from the edge, it was actually Ryan Delaire (+3.6) who delivered this performance. The undrafted rookie, who was signed off of Washington’s practice squad last week, made several impressive plays in his first NFL game. He recorded two sacks, one quarterback hit, and one quarterback hurry on 28 pass rush snaps leading to a pass rush grade of +2.7, the highest on the team. He also picked up four run stops on only 12 run plays.
— Despite Carolina’s dominant win, it was not one of quarterback Cam Newton’s (-2.0) better games, especially when throwing 10+ yards downfield. Although he completed three of his five passes between the numbers for a passer rating of 104.2, only one pass was completed of his six attempts outside the numbers. This included a late throw to Greg Olsen in the red zone that should have been intercepted by Lavonte David (-0.6), but was dropped.
DT Kawann Short (+4.5)
CB Josh Norman (+4.3)
DE Ryan Delaire (+3.6)
WR Brenton Bersin (+2.6)
RG Trai Turner (+2.6)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
— Both of Tampa Bay’s offensive tackles struggled coming into this game, and while they were still unimpressive in pass protection, they did flash ability in the run game, especially rookie Donovan Smith (+3.7). Right tackle Gosder Cherilus (-3.8) allowed one sack, one quarterback hit, and a team-high five quarterback hurries. Despite his better performance in the run game, he became the lowest-graded member on Tampa Bay’s offensive line. On the other side of the line, Smith did allow one sack, one hit and two hurries, however his run block grade of +4.3 (the highest for anyone on the field yesterday) did save his day and may suggest brighter games ahead.
— Safety Chris Conte (+2.6) had a complete game, as he contributed in all three phases of the defense. Although he missed a tackle, he did record two run stops, which was tied for third on the Buccaneers’ defense. Also, he earned the highest pass coverage grade from Tampa Bay, as he allowed one reception on two targets, and even that went for negative yards. Finally, he picked up a quarterback hurry on his only pass rush snap. It was no surprise that this was Conte’s highest-graded game since his rookie season in 2011.
— Rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander (-3.6) has played every snap for the Buccaneers this season; however it seems that he is still a work in process, as he recorded his third negatively-graded performance in four games. He especially struggles against the run where he graded out at -3.4 yesterday and missed three tackles. He has now missed nine tackles in 2015, which is the most by any Tampa Bay defender. In coverage, he did slightly better, as he allowed one reception on a screen for 10 yards on two targets.
LT Donovan Smith (+3.7)
DE William Gholston (+3.6)
RB Doug Martin (+3.1)
FS Chris Conte (+2.6)
OL Kevin Pamphile (+2.2)