It’s so frustrating and sad that the defense would hold the Panthers to 1.9 yards per carry, hold Cam Newton to 42.4% completions and under 200 yards passing, and lose. I’d say the defense has played close to lights out three times: at Giants, Broncos, at Panthers. 0-3. With a team that’s so good offensively, how is that even possible? Well, turnovers and special teams. You can blame both of those things – but not the defense. This was a heroic effort by a unit that’s starting to play a lot better. Fantastic performance overall. Special teams on the other hand? How does Greg McMahon still have a job?
Cameron Jordan: B- (2.67) Just 3 tackles, including one ridiculously awesome run stuff on Jonathan Stewart where he just blew the play up right at the hand off. He had some hits and constant pressure on Cam Newton. He rushed the passer very well, just came up short on getting a sack.
Nick Fairley: C+ (2.67) Just one tackle but it was a big play late where he just the snap and destroys Stewart in the backfield. His pressure was good at times.
Tyeler Davison: B+ (2.55) He had 2 tackles and a deflected pass. Dominant on the interior in run defense. Powerful and held blocks very well. Impressive performance.
Paul Kruger: B- (2.19) Like Jordan he flashed pass rushing skills but it was always a little short. He had 4 tackles including one for a loss. That seemed to be a half sack but I guess the official ruled it a running play. Solid against the run.
Sheldon Rankins: A- (3.11) He played a lot, moved extremely well and was a disruptive force all game. He provided a ton of pocket push and was often around the ball. Showed better run defense than I would have ever expected from him, too. 5 tackles and a hit on Newton.
Kasim Edebali: C+ (1.97) Played seldom but had nice pursuit and hustle on a pass play flushed out of the pocket where he chases down Newton and gets a hit on him.
Darryl Tapp: B+ (2.48) He had 3 tackles and a hit on Newton. He’s always pretty solid against the run and seems to give good snaps when he’s in. A quality rotational guy.
David Onyemata: B- (2.07) He played a lot and impressed me to. Whether rushing the passer or filling run lanes he was disciplined and solid. It was cool seeing him play alongside Rankins for long stretches. No stats but a good performance.
Craig Robertson: B+ (2.83) Unfair that he’s stuck on Ted Ginn on that touchdown throw. Give him a lot of credit for being right there, too. Against the run he filled in lanes well, tackled well, and played pretty sound football. His development has taken the sting out of Laurinaitis being a bust. He finished with a team high 9 tackles.
Dannell Ellerbe: A- (3.22) Finished with 4 tackles and a sack. Had another hit on Newton. His bend, pursuit, timing and blitz delay is excellent. He knows how to get to the quarterback. He looks faster and healthier. Solid in coverage too. A really good performance. Amazing how much he and Rankins have helped this defense.
Nate Stupar: C+ (2.40) He finished with 5 tackles, a sack, and a nice hit on Stewart on a pass play near the line of scrimmage where a flag is picked up. I thought his defensive play was exceptional and it practically deserves and A. He also had two killer penalties both on 4th quarter Murphy returns (one hold, one block in the back). As if special teams didn’t have enough problems. He gets an F for that. So in the end, a good day on defense mitigated by horrible mistakes on special teams. A microcosm of the game.
Stephone Anthony: B- (1.83) He actually played and finished with 2 tackles. Most of his defensive snaps were goal line plays but he did have a tackle of Stewart for no gain at the one. Nice to see him do something positive. He also did ok on special teams with a tackle.
Sterling Moore: C+ (2.52) The cushion he gave on that last throw to Kelvin Benjamin iced the game. In general he was fortunate Benjamin left for a long stretch with an injury because he was overmatched. He had 5 tackles including one for a loss and he had some moments in coverage, but he gave up passes in front of him.
B. W. Webb: B (2.58) Had 4 tackles and a nice pass breakup near the end zone. Devin Funchess got the best of him on a couple of throws but overall I’d say he had a solid day.
Ken Crawley: A- (2.27) Excellent coverage. Had two pass break ups on third down. When he was in he put his guy on lock down.
Vonn Bell: A- (2.67) The only thing that stops me from giving him an A is a late hit out of bounds on Newton that’s just stupid. He had 7 tackles and a defended pass. Took good angles, great against the run, good in coverage, sound tackler. He’s starting to play solid football. Byrd’s days on numbered. Had a terrific punch out of the ball to break up a 3rd down play. He has a nose for the ball.
Kenny Vaccaro: C (2.85) Not his best day. The roughing the kicker penalty was so stupid. SO stupid. He had 5 tackles and a nice hit on Newton blitzing. He had good moments like he always does, but struggled covering Greg Olsen at times – which included getting beat for a big first down when the Saints blitzed.
Jairus Byrd: C (2.17) 2 tackles. Didn’t offer much. Quiet day.
Roman Harper: C+ (1.93) Had a red zone tackle in goal line defense.
Wil Lutz: D (2.43) Yet another kick blocked. That’s 5 this year and this one can’t be blamed on protection. This is 100% on him. He’s had issues with low trajectories all season and it has to improve because this is becoming a big liability. He was 2 for 2 on extra points and 2 for 3 on field goals with a long of 30. The block is what stands out, though.
Thomas Morstead: B+ (3.20) Even with the ankle injury, once again, he’s running down the field trying to chase down the scorer on a block. He gets mauled at the goal line for his efforts. Give him tons of credit for never giving up on the play. He averaged 47 yards on 3 punts, 1 inside the 20, and a net of 43.7. Really good considering the injury. He now has the highest GPA on the team after Brees’s poor game.
Marcus Murphy: C- (1.50) He actually did a nice job late on punt returns, averaging 11.5 on 4 returns. He fielded a kickoff that was going out of bounds at the 1, though, and then fell out. A 39 yard mistake (the ball would’ve been placed at the 40). The Saints would punt three plays later and set up a Panthers score. So dumb. So unbelievably dumb.
Jake Lampman: B- (2.80) Pretty good coverage and another tackle. Just wish he could’ve fallen on that Ginn fumble.
Justin Drescher: C- (1.89) I thought a couple of his snaps were off target and Morstead did a good job making a mediocre snap ok.
Shiloh Keo: B+ (3.33) Two tackles and good physical pursuit downfield.
My defensive player of the game: Dannell Ellerbe
My special teams player of the game: Shiloh Keo