Grades for Patriots-Panthers
Here are the top takeaways, and the top 5 grades for each team, from the preseason encounter between the Panthers and the Patriots from Friday night:
–The numbers may not be striking for Cam Newton (+5.3) but the Panthers’ signal-caller was on point with some terrific throws in this game and had some big plays taken away in a trio of drops. Arguably Newton’s best two throws of the night were dropped: by Greg Olsen on a post in the first quarter, and by Philly Brown on a stop-and-go late in the second quarter.
–Missing almost their entire starting defensive line, the Panthers needed a backup to stand up and be counted against the Patriots, and second-year defensive end Kony Ealy (+2.6) produced another strong display as a pass-rusher. After a disappointing rookie season, Ealy collected a sack for the second week in a row and racked up three pressures on his 16 pass rushes.
–The absence of starters in front of him didn’t stop LB Luke Kuechly (+2.4) from turning in a strong display. In 26 snaps, Kuechly registered three stops while earning a positive grade as a run defender, in coverage and as a pass-rusher.
Top 5 graded players:
QB Cam Newton (+5.3)
DE Mario Addison (+3.7)
DT Dwan Edwards (+3.0)
DE Kony Ealy (+2.6)
LB Luke Kuechly (+2.4)
–The Patriots’ 2014 first-round pick had a minimal impact as a rookie, but based upon his fine preseason form his second season is going to be a different story. Once again Dominique Easley (+2.8) put in a strong showing, earning five pressures (1 sack, 1 hit, 3 hurries) as a pass-rusher along with continued solid run defense.
–After a disastrous first pass that should have been intercepted for a touchdown, Jimmy Garoppolo (+0.6) rebounded with a solid performance for the Patriots’ backups. The majority of Garoppolo’s passing attempts came between the numbers, as he completed 11 of 13 pass attempts for 75 yards and his 1 touchdown on throws aimed over the middle.
–Protecting the blind side was a problem for the Patriots all game long. Starter Nate Solder (-2.3) struggled to control Kony Ealy, surrendering a hit and four hurries in 17 snaps in pass protection, while backup Chris Martin (-5.5) surrendered four hurries also in his 19 snaps in pass protection.
Top 5 graded players:
DB Dax Swanson (+3.0)
DT Dominique Easley (+2.8)
OLB Chandler Jones (+2.8)
LB James Morris (+2.0)
OT Sebastian Vollmer (+1.6)