CAR-TEN Grades: Panthers defense suffocates Titans
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Panthers’ 27-10 victory over the Titans.
– Efficiency was the name of the game for QB Cam Newton who only missed on a handful of throws while consistently moving the chains with his arm and his legs. He completed 21 of 25 “aimed” passes, one of which was dropped, good for an accuracy percentage of 88.0 percent that ranked third in the league this week. He’s such a key part of the Panthers’ running attack, often the go-to guy in short yardage situations, whether running the sneak, naked bootleg, or quarterback power, Newton is so valuable when needing one or two yards.
– Another week, another top game from the Panthers’ trio of defensive superstars – LB Luke Kuechly (+4.5), DT Kawann Short (+3.1) and CB Josh Norman (+2.0). Kuechly’s ability to diagnose plays, particularly against the run, is just off the charts, and he led the team with six stops. Short consistently created havoc in the run game at +2.1 while adding two QB hits, while Norman was avoided for much of the day, allowing only two catches for nine yards on three targets.
– The Panthers got efficiency out of their tight ends as Greg Olsen and Ed Dickson combined to catch all 11 passes thrown their way for 101 yards. Olsen caught eight for 80 yards, and he is currently our no. two graded tight end as a receiver at 96.3. He got open a variety of ways, but his one-handed catch on a back-shoulder throw was the highlight of his afternoon. The one issue with Olsen’s game is his run blocking this season which graded at -1.3 on Sunday and nets the worst rating in the NFL this year.
QB Cam Newton +5.7
LB Luke Kuechly +4.4
DT Kawann Short +3.1
FS Kurt Coleman +2.7
C Ryan Kalil +2.3
– QB Marcus Mariota wasn’t asked to do much, but he showed his usual efficiency in the short and intermediate game. He completed all five of his passes between 10-19 yards for 89 yards while going 11 of 14 on passes under 10 yards in the air. The offense does a nice job of taking advantage of his quick release and decision making, but the deep ball is still lacking as he missed on both of his attempts and his accuracy percentage of 15.4 percent on deep passes ranks last in the league.
– The game plan called for OLB Brian Orakpo to drop into coverage a season-high 15 times, and the Panthers did a good job of exploiting the edge rusher on those plays. He gave up receptions on all three of his targets for 38 yards. He also posted his worst run grade of the year at -2.2, whether giving up extra yards to Newton on the edge or over pursuing up field, it wasn’t Orakpo’s finest afternoon. He did manage to pick up a sack on a stunt, but that was his only pressure on his 17 rushes.
– Offensive line replacements struggled again as LG Joe Looney (-3.1) and C Andy Gallick (-1.2) posted the two worst grades of the starting five. Filling in at left guard for the third straight game, Looney allowed only one hit on 28 rushes, but he had trouble with Short and Kuechly in the running game (-3.4). Gallik struggled with Short as well, while also getting controlled by NT Kyle Love at the point of attack at times. For Looney, it’s his third straight negative grade since taking over as starter while it’s the second straight negative for Gallik.
LB Wesley Woodyard +2.9
RG Chance Warmack +2.0
CB Coty Sensabaugh +1.7
CB Cody Riggs +1.4
QB Marcus Mariota +1.0