Report Card for the Carolina Panthers' Defense Against the Tampa Bay Bucs

The Carolina Panthers' defense feasted on the mistakes of rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. Publisher Brandon Croce hands out his grades for the defensive side of the ball for the Carolina Panthers in Week 4.

Defensive End

Carolina Panthers' fans were excited about a new defensive end entering Week 4 with the addition of Jared Allen but it was another new defensive end Ryan Delaire, who stole the show. The undrafted rookie was signed off the Washington Redskins' practice squad and in his first career game registered two sacks. If he is able to continue to play like this, the Panthers won’t have to worry about their pass rush for the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, Allen had a quiet game in his debut in a Panthers’ uniform but he did get close to his first sack when Winston started to scramble and Allen tripped him up without his helmet on. While it is only one game, this pass rush looked much better and should only improve as the season moves forward.

Grade: B+


Defensive Tackle

Kawann Short is quietly putting together an impressive season and is currently rated as the third best defensive tackle in the game according to Pro Football Focus. He has been a steadying force in the middle of this defensive line and is having a breakout season in his third year in the NFL.

This has been a welcomed sight as Star Lotulelei continues to try and work his way back. While he is healthy after dealing with a foot injury for over half a year, he is still trying to get back to the way he played his rookie season. Lotulelei did recover the fumbled snap on the second play of the game but was kept in check for a majority of the game.

Grade: C+



Once again the Panthers were without their star linebacker, Luke Kuechly but the defense did enough to get the job done. Thomas Davis once again rose to the occasion and led the team in tackles with 11 and even had one interception. A.J. Klein, Kuechly’s replacement, was second on the team with eight tackles and rookie Shaq Thompson had four tackles and one QB hit.

While it is never good to lose a player of Kuechly’s caliber for extended periods of time, the fact that this group was able to rise to the occasion has to give the coaching staff some confidence. The depth of this group is certainly apparent with Klein playing the way he has and the team will be better suited to match up against opposing offenses’ personnel.

Grade: B+



Yes, Jameis Winston did throw for 287 yards and two touchdowns (to his own team) but it was an ugly game the first overall pick. This was due in large part to the Panthers secondary and in particular Josh Norman.

Winston only completed 26 of 43 passes and had four interceptions, two of which were picked off by Norman. He returned one of those for a touchdown and now has career highs in interceptions and touchdowns and the season is only a quarter of the way complete.

Another bright spot was the emergence of Tre Boston, who finished third on the team in tackles with six. Boston has been splitting time with Roman Harper the past two weeks and has been making an impact. The other safety, Kurt Coleman, finished the game with four tackles and an interception off a tipped pass.

This secondary has been giving up big yardage totals, which could be a concern, they have done a good job of forcing turnovers and keeping the touchdowns to a minimum.

Grade: A-

Twitter @BrandonCroce.

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