TB-CAR grades: Bucs RB Rodgers helps power close win over Panthers

Fill-in running back forces eight missed tackles in win, while Carolina wastes stellar performances from TE Greg Olsen and LB Luke Kuechly.

| 2 weeks ago
(Streeter Lecka, Getty Images)

(Streeter Lecka, Getty Images)

TB-CAR grades: Bucs RB Rodgers helps power close win over Panthers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17, Carolina Panthers 14

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Tampa Bay’s “Monday Night Football” win over Carolina:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quarterback grade: Jameis Winston, 63.0

Winston’s role is minor in win

Jameis Winston was just about average in his start against the Panthers on Monday night. The offensive game plan certainly did not center around him throwing the ball against the Carolina secondary, with running back Jacquizz Rodgers getting 31 carries on the night. Winston had some success throwing to wide receiver Mike Evans, and didn’t make any turnover-worthy throws. His largest downgrade came from his late second-quarter fumble that he luckily was able to recover himself, but he didn’t make enough big plays to earn an above-average grade.


Top offensive grades:

RB Jacquizz Rodgers, 79.8

G Kevin Pamphilee, 76.0

WR Mike Evans, 75.1

WR Vincent Jackson, 72.5

G Ali Marpet, 72.4

Jacquizz Rodgers stars in starting RB role

With star running back Doug Martin and backup running back Charles Simms out with injuries, the Bucs turned to third-stringer Jacquizz Rodgers on Monday night. Rodgers did not get much help from his offensive tackles, who had awful performances. Rodgers did much of the work himself by forcing eight missed tackles in the game, en route to recording a very hard-earned 101 rushing yards on the night.

Top defensive grades: 

CB Brent Grimes, 85.7

LB Daryl Smith, 80.1

S Keith Tandy, 75.9

ED Noah Spence, 69.9

CB Vernon Hargreaves III, 68.6

Defense produces a mixed performance

It was a middle-of-the-road performance for the Buccaneers defense. The unit benefited from not having to play against defending MVP Cam Newton, who was out due to a concussion, instead taking advantage of some poor decisions from backup QB Derek Anderson. The secondary was led by cornerback Brent Grimes, who allowed one catch on just two targets to go with a crucial interception, when Carolina had a first down at the 1-yard line late in the game. Opposite Grimes, rookie CB Vernon Hargreaves III held his own. He allowed six catches on eight targets but limited Carolina receivers to 70 yards, including just nine after the catch.

Carolina Panthers

Quarterback grade: Derek Anderson, 45.6

Turnovers cost Anderson in close loss

For the most part, fill-in starting QB Derek Anderson actually had a solid day throwing the football. Tampa Bay’s defense was unable to create pressure for pretty much the entire night, resulting in Anderson having a clean pocket on 25 of his 29 dropbacks. With those 25 dropbacks, Anderson completed 17 of 24 passes for 268 yards, and he was especially effective at throwing intermediate and deeper throws, completing 11 of 14 of his throws that traveled at least 10 yards in the air for a total of 213 yards. Unfortunately for Anderson, however, he had two critical turnovers that killed both his overall grade along with Carolina’s chances of exiting Monday night with a victory. His goal-line interception by Tampa Bay CB Brent Grimes was especially damning.


Top offensive grades:

TE Greg Olsen, 95.8

C Ryan Kalil, 86.5

G Andrew Norwell, 81.5

G Trai Turner, 81.2

T Daryl Williams, 80.4

Olsen posts an excellent grade in defeat

Anderson relied upon star tight end Greg Olsen often, and the veteran most certainly delivered, hauling in nine of his 13 targets for 182 yards, with 64 of those coming after the catch. Olsen especially had his way with the Buccaneers’ linebackers, catching six of seven targets for a total of 91 yards while being covered by Daryl Smith, Lavonte David or Kwon Alexander. The offensive line also had a very nice game, as they combined to allow just four total QB pressures (with none of them being sacks or hits) in pass protection, and with all of them except for Mike Remmers finishing with at least an above-average run-blocking grade.

Top defensive grades:

LB Luke Kuechly, 86.4

S Tre Boston, 81.0

DE Kony Ealy, 80.5

DE Mario Addison, 80.2

S Michael Griffin, 79.0

Missed tackles mask a solid performance

The Panthers did not get much help from their offense or special teams on the night, but they also were unable to get off the field in many key situations. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was his normal All-Pro self on Monday night, earning the highest grade on the Panthers’ defense, and the team’s edge defenders dominated the Buccaneers tackles, making Donovan Smith and Gosder Cherilus earn the lowest grades among Buccaneers offensive players on the night. But the Panthers missed too many tackles, allowing the Bucs to slowly grind out drives. Robert McClain led the team with three missed tackles in what turned out to be a disappointing loss.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Bucs RB Jacquizz Rodgers

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

  • FireDG

    Knew the game was over when I saw the Panthers run a passing play on the one yard line, on first down with their back-up QB no less. After Artis-Payne had two touchdowns, too. Carolina has one of the worst coaching staffs in the league by far and their front office is up there too. The elite talent they INHERITED from the previous regime did an okay job at masking it but it’s all being exposed now. Complete embarrassment of a franchise.

    • DoubleTTB22

      Tolbert was wide open on that play for a touchdown. If DA even plays to the level of a high school QB on that one play having moved the ball well up until then, then your hot take would have looked pretty foolish just now. And the Panthers struggled in short yardage. CAP only got half the ball over the line and it took them till fourth down in order to accomplish that one for a TD. Earlier in the game they failed on a 3rd and 1. Later in the game after the pick, they needed a 3rd and two and went backwards on that one. It was just a terrible play by DA who is a long-time veteran and should know to protect the ball. The play worked the way it was drawn up. It isn’t the coaching staffs mistake that you QB completely randomly decided to force the ball into double coverage for no reason at all, while Tolbert is wide open right in front of the QB in the endzone. If a RB with limited experience fumbled on the goal line, we might be talking about how Olsen with 180 yards had the hot hand, and they didn’t give the passing game a chance, instead opting to use their back-up running back. They should have at the very least had 2 more downs to possible run on. That was just a bad play by the QB, not a bad call.

      This coaching staff inherited a 2-14 team. There really wasn’t that much talent at the time. They have gotten a lot of production from later round draft picks and UDFA, which speaks to solid coaching. They also tend to put guys in good schemes for their skill set, helping them to succeed rather than trying to fit them into a preset system, which speaks to solid coaching. Ron Rivera didn’t win Coach of the year in 2 separate seasons by accident.

      Dave Gettleman has added some key pieces to the team, and resigned a lot of its core members (Cam,Luke,Olsen). Hurney overpayed a lot of players and wasn’t as good of a scout overall outside of the first round. The Panthers were in a terrible cap situation by the time Gettleman took over, which we have just now gotten out of, with some room to spare going forward. Short, Star,KB,Trai Turner, and Shaq have all been key contributors from earlier rounds in the draft. Plus guys like Andrew Norwell,Corey Brown,Payne,Fozzy,Bene,and Klein have all contributed significantly as later round draft picks and UDFA. They have managed to find and develop talent in the short time they have been around. If anything the Panthers have found more contributors than they use to under Hurney.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Last season ended with the Panthers having the best turnover ratio and currently only the Jets have a worse one. They have the talent to right the sinking ship but they have to stop being their own worst enemy to make that happen.