You probably know the all too familiar feeling of spending a night out on the town and having a little too much to drink. The next morning you wake up and kind of do a quick mental recap of what exactly transpired the previous night to hopefully reassure yourself you didn’t act too much like a fool. Well, that’s what I’m going to do today in regards to the Dallas Cowboys 2018 season opener against the Carolina Panthers.
What was supposed to be a kind of “welcome to the world” debut for this 2018 Cowboys team Sunday afternoon quickly became a day of regret. I don’t know about you, but sitting through the Cowboys matchup with the Panthers gave me flashbacks of what we all went through last season. It wasn’t a good feeling and I hope that we can chalk this loss up to early-season jitters and rust.
For the majority of the game, the Dallas Cowboys struggled to get anything going offensively. They continually got behind the chains and were forced to try to convert several 3rd and long situations. They didn’t actually get into Panthers territory until 9:11 in the third quarter.
I don’t know exactly what was wrong, but the Cowboys offensive line really struggled with the Panthers front four throughout the game. Maybe the absence of Travis Frederick impacted their performance more than we anticipated, but something was definitely off.
Tyron Smith had a few penalties early in the game that put the offense in bad down and distances. Connor Williams struggled anchoring down against the bullrush, which wasn’t that big of a surprise. Even La’el Collins didn’t play up to his usual standards. Overall, the Panthers d-line got the best of the Cowboys OL Sunday afternoon.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys OL struggles looked to have had a ripple effect throughout the rest of the offense. Ezekiel Elliott had a difficult time finding any running room the majority of the game. Dak Prescott had to deal with consistent pressure, which could be one of the reasons why he was a little inaccurate in the passing game. Things just didn’t look good for the Dallas Cowboys offensively.
Fortunately, it wasn’t all bad news. The Dallas Cowboys defense kept them in the game and actually gave him a shot at potentially coming from behind for the victory.
The Cowboys secondary particularly looked good, even without starting Free Safety Xavier Woods in the lineup. Byron Jones has found his home at cornerback. He was fantastic in coverage, as was his counterpart Chidobe Awuzie. Of course, they had quite a bit of help due to the consistent pressure the pass rush was putting on Quarterback Cam Newton.
DeMarcus Lawrence picked up where he left off last season. He was dominant in both the running and passing game, applying consistent pressure to Newton. The rest of the d-line looked pretty good as well, especially Taco Charlton, who I thought played really well. The Cowboys linebackers however had their fair share of struggles.
With relatively no preseason work, Sean Lee’s rust was blatantly apparent. He was still able to diagnose plays and be in the right spot for the most part, but he missed way too many tackles. Damien Wilson was also guilty of looking a little rusty as well. It just wasn’t what I expected from this group after being so highly touted heading into this matchup.
As fans, all we can do is hope that this dreadful performance is a fluke and the best is yet to come from the Dallas Cowboys. So, I’m going to take a Tylenol and hope this Monday morning hangover goes away sooner rather than later. I don’t think the Cowboys made too much a fool of themselves, but that’s debatable.