The Carolina Panthers stand today at 1-0 thanks to a dominating defensive performance, and and offense that was able to control the flow of the game. Let’s take a look at who won and lost the most in this great performance to open the season.
After the huge workload that Panthers rookie RB Christian McCaffrey took on, you might expect to see his name here instead of Stewart’s. The reality though, is that it is very clear to me that Jonathan Stewart is going to benefit greatly from the rookie’s presence. This was most evident on Stewart’s touchdown reception where he easily picked his way into the end-zone, and also at the end of the game where the Panthers leaned heavily on Stewart to close the game out. Stewart having fresh legs in the fourth quarter is just what the team wants, and it ran to perfection today.
Cam had a mediocre day in a normal situation (which this Sunday for him certainly wasn’t). He was clearly rusty in the first half, and it is possible that his shoulder is still giving him some trouble. Regardless of that, the Panthers figured out how to score 23 points without Cam having to do too much. That is a win for Newton, who is probably going to get better as he gets back in the swing of things. Also... Cam was not sacked once on Sunday. That has to be a relief for a guy who is used to being one of the most heavily pressured QBs in the NFL. Cam being a winner today is partially due to his offensive lines ability to win as well.
If there was any doubt about Star’s contribution to this defense, he put it soundly to rest on Sunday.
Half sack, multiple pressures, a fumble recovery and several stops in the run game. Star Lotulelei was the defensive MVP today for Carolina— CanadianPanther (@CP_CSR) September 11, 2017
Lotulelei was a disruptive force the entire game, taking on double teams and smashing right through them or pushing them right back into their own backfield. This led to some one on one opportunities for Kawann Short, which he also took full advantage of. All told, Star’s disruption in the middle was the catalyst for the defenses dominant performance against the 49ers, and you can probably credit more than just a half sack to him.
Graham Gano was a perfect 3/3 on field goals during this game and 2/2 on extra points. That is bad news for Butker, as apparently the team is really hoping to spend an extra $3.25m on a kicker this season instead of giving him the opportunity to do it.
Wide Receivers not named Russel Shepard
While I expect this to improve as Cam Newton rounds into form, the wide receivers failed to make much of an impact against the 49ers. In addition, the emphasis on getting Christian McCaffrey the football certainly hurt their looks as well. It will need to be seen whether this is just a phase, or if the group is having the same issues that they’ve had in the past... the lack of ability to create separation.
The San Francisco offense did not have much success today, but when they did, it was usually running it right at Mario Addison. Run contain has never been a strong point of Addison’s game, but had apparently been a focal point of his offseason training. It did not show against the 49ers, but luckily for us, our linebackers Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, and Shaq Thompson continue to be one of the strongest units in the NFL. Against a stronger opponent, the team is going to need Addison to be the three down end that they want him to be, instead of the pass rush specialist he has always been.
What do you think Panthers fans? Who won the biggest in the game against the 49ers?
Who was the biggest winner against the 49ers?
This poll is closed
Other (sound off in the comments)