Looking up game grades in week one and two was a sobering experience where you'd be inclined to peer at the screen through a gap between your fingers, hand covering your face. There were some good performances, but the terrible far outweighed. This week is a different story, as we got some great games all around. Lets take a look at three players who stood out, and three who struggled.
It's tempting to fall in love with Greg Hardy's monster three-sack day, but quietly it was Johnson who had the better afternoon of the two defensive ends -- even with less flashy plays.
Johnson finished with a team-high +5.7 grade, according to Pro Football Focus, including +5.1 pass rush rating. This is due to the endless pressure he got on Eli Manning, finishing with one sack, two hits, and six quarterback hurries. A total of nine pressures made him the best defensive player on the day.
Big money, big game.
Shocked yet? It became passe to rail on the former second round pick for his missed assignments and bad blocking, but quietly Silatolu has emerged as the Panthers' best run blocker -- and it's not close. Give credit where it's due to DeAngelo Williams, but the second-year left guard is making life easy.
He finished with a +4.9 grade on Sunday, including +3.7 in run blocking. The best part: He didn't surrender a single pressure.
The numbers don't lie, but this one has me thoroughly confused. When I looked at the tape on Bell I credited him with a sack allowed and a pressure, both from Mathias Kiwanuka, but PFF credited the sack to Greg Olsen and pressure to Chris Scott allowing Bell to finish with a +4.8 rating, second-best on the offensive line.
I'd love to be wrong and this game was indicative of wholesale improvements -- but I'm not sold.
Time to stop the experiment. There's a reason Scott was able to walk in off the street and find a starting job in Carolina and it's not because he's a diamond in the rough. For the third straight week Scott was one of the Panthers' worst players. He finished with a -2.8 rating, including a -3.3 in run blocking -- which is supposed to be his strong suit.
It's maddening because Jeff Byers continues to be the Panthers' best rotational lineman, consistently grading well, but he's not getting any opportunities.
Almost all of Olsen's -2.3 grade came in bad block ratings, but we already knew that about him. The man is tight end in name only, far more comfortable to play the tall wide receiver role.
Olsen is never going to be an in-line blocker, that's just not who he is -- but necessity means he needs to stay on the field, lest the teams tips its hand.
This one was a little surprising too as Blackburn finished graded as the Panthers' worst player on defense with a -1.7 rating. This was all due to a lack of run stopping, which he finished at -1.9.
Really though, Blackburn should get a +9000 for his ability to sneak an entire Giants' playbook and gameplan out of the Meadowlands under his shirt.