Grading the Carolina Panthers (6-6) for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay (5-7).
F Quarterback: Cam Newton entered the game with just seven interceptions all season, and threw four — matching a career-high in a single game. It’s unfortunate to grade Newton as such when factoring in a shoulder that is clearly bothering him.
$20 for 365 Days of Unlimited Digital Access
Last chance to take advantage of our best offer of the year! Act now!
B Running backs: Christian McCaffrey rushed for 106 yards with a 53-yard long.
C Receivers: Newton appeared to miss open players at times, but at other times coverage on receivers led to sacks or throwaways. DJ Moore had a ball glance off his hands, which led to one of Newton’s interceptions. Devin Funchess scored a touchdown but seems to struggle to find consistency when blocking downfield.
D- Offensive line: Chris Clark had a very forgettable game at left tackle, giving up two of Newton’s four sacks. Left guard Greg Van Roten gave up a sack as well.
C Defensive line: Carolina mixed up its front rotation to show a different look than in previous weeks, with Wes Horton in the three-technique. The Panthers had four sacks but had trouble with Winston using his legs.
C Linebackers: Linebacker Luke Kuechly came up with a big takeaway after falling on an Eric Reid-forced fumble. But Winston’s early use of his legs hurt this group, too, and they did not play gap-sound on the first drive.
F Secondary: Carolina recorded no interceptions against Winston, who entered the game with 11 in six games. Tampa Bay receiver Chris Godwin had 101 yards on five catches and a touchdown, and although one pass interference call was highly questionable, there were too many penalties throughout.
B Special teams: After two inconsistent weeks, kicker Graham Gano hit his lone field goal attempt and both extra points. Kenjon Barner’s 29-yard punt return in the second quarter was pushed back by a Ben Jacobs block in the back flag.
D Coaching: I don’t know what it says that a head coach takes over some of the defensive playcalling responsibility, as Ron Rivera did for first-year defensive coordinator Eric Washington on Sunday. Players said that Carolina’s issues are player-caused, not the fault of coaches — so weighing that opinion lifts this grade very slightly.