GB-CAR Grades: Newton rises when needed, Packers falter on road again
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Carolina Panthers’ 37-29 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
Green Bay Packers
– It felt a lot like the previous week for the Packers passing attack, as they were unable to get anything going for the majority of the game. Even during the comeback, QB Aaron Rodgers (-0.4) still looked uneasy, missing on a number of throws and vacating clean pockets, to no avail. This was on display on the last play of the game, as he missed the would-be game-tying touchdown by dropping his eyes in the pocket and looking to move around to make a play (he ended up throwing an interception). Still, Rodgers sprinkled in his usual helping of special throws to keep the Packers close, but an uncharacteristic high number of misses will mar this performance.
– The running back competition continues to be a one-sided affair, as James Starks graded at +2.0 overall, while Eddie Lacy posted his fourth straight negative game at -1.4. Aside from Lacy’s fumble dragging him down, it’s clear that Starks is bringing more to the table at this point, especially when plays are not blocked perfectly. Starks showed an ability to get out of trouble, force the first man to miss (forced four missed tackles in the run game), and find yards even when the blocking isn’t there, while Lacy no longer shows the ability to make defenders miss that he showed in his first two years in the league. He’s now forced only two missed tackles on his last 33 carries.
– Big plays in the passing game were to blame for Green Bay’s early deficit, and there were multiple culprits in the secondary. Both rookie CB Damarious Randall (-1.1) and FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (-2.6) were to blame for WR Devin Funchess’ 52-yard post route, while it was Clinton-Dix leaving WR Jerricho Cotchery wide open for his 59-yard gain. CB Demetri Goodson (-1.2) got into the act as well, getting torched by WR Philly Brown for a 39-yard score, despite getting called for defensive holding on the play. These big plays were the story of the afternoon for the Green Bay defense.
LG Josh Sitton +3.8
RG T.J. Lang +3.2
OLB Nick Perry +2.8
SS Morgan Burnett +2.7
LB Jake Ryan +2.6
– Classic Cam Newton (+0.5 overall, -1.6 in pass game, +2.0 as runner) was on display, as he alternated special plays with head-scratching misses throughout the game. His post route to Funchess was as on-target as you can get, dropping right into his hands for a 52-yard gain, while the touchdown to Brown was also great ball placement. On the other end, he also left a couple touchdowns on the table, whether overthrowing TE Greg Olsen on the seam route at the 5:54 mark of the second quarter, or overthrowing Cotchery on the out route with 4.56 to go in the third quarter. When you add in the poor decision and throw on his fourth quarter interception that let the Packers back into the game, it results in a -1.6 passing grade for the game.
– The right side of the Panthers’ offensive line did a fine job, as RG Trai Turner and RT Mike Remmers graded at +3.4 and +4.1 respectively. Turner’s effort has him tied for fourth among the league’s guards at 89.8, while for Remmers, it’s his second straight positive grade after a pair of disastrous efforts. The duo combined to surrender only two hurries on the afternoon, while grading at +5.7 in the run game.
– Linebacker Luke Kuechly continued his Pro Bowl play with a +3.4 overall grade, including a +1.8 run grade and +2.1 mark in coverage. He used his usual great instincts to beat second level blockers to the point of attack, getting in on a team-high eight tackles and four stops. In coverage, he added yet another pass defensed, his fourth on the season, good for second among inside linebackers.
RT Mike Remmers +4.1
LB Luke Kuechly +3.4
RG Trai Turner +3.2
TE Greg Olsen +2.8
WR Devin Funchess +1.7