Cowboys vs. Panthers: Carolina has a variety of weapons to throw at Dallas Congratulations! We have made it through the long months without NFL football http://www.cowboyscheapauthenticstore.com/tyrone-crawford-jersey-cheap
, and now we look forward to watching the Cowboys take the field this Sunday against a very formidable opponent.The Cowboys open the 2018 season against a playoff team in the Carolina Panthers, led by quarterback Cam Newton and a stingy defense that was just outside the top-10 in team defense in 2017. Needless to say, the silver and blue must be prepared for a battle if they expect to walk out of Bank of America Stadium with a victory to begin the season.Today, we will look at the offensive personnel on the Panthers roster, and who the Cowboys will be tasked with defending on Sunday afternoon.The QuarterbackAs with the majority of offenses on any level, the Panthers go as their quarterback goes. Cam Newton, the first overall selection of the 2011 NFL Draft, is a dual-threat signal-caller that has the ability to torment defenses with his cannon of an arm and his tree trunks for legs. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound quarterback has an MVP and a Super Bowl appearance to his name, proving that he is one of the more dangerous players across the league.For all of the talent Newton has, the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner has had his inconsistencies from game-to-game and season-to-season. While some of that can be attributed to poor play-calling or porous offensive line play, Newton struggles to hit the consistent passes and is far from the most accurate passer in the world. Newton presents a unique challenge for the Cowboys as the two squads clash in Charlotte on Sunday afternoon. Rod Marinelli is tasked with game-planning to take away the big play through the air while also finding a way to neutralize Newton’s legs. A season ago, the freakish specimen accounted for 3,302 yards and 22 touchdowns to 16 interceptions on a 59.1% completion percentage to go along with 754 yards and six scores on the ground.DeMarcus Lawrence is aware of the need to keep Newton in the pocket so that he can’t hurt the defense with his legs and athleticism.That is obviously a lot easier said than done, though. That said, the Cowboys would be wise to have a spy (Jaylon Smith, maybe?) to keep Netwon from scrambling around and potentially moving the chains with his feet. Saints writer Nick Underhill wrote an interesting piece on how New Orleans defended Newton in a late season match-up last year.Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard have a tough task on their hands in game-planning to stop one of the more unique talents across the league. You cannot just blindly blitz against Newton, rather collapsing the pocket and bringing in an extra defender will help neutralize much of Cam’s skill-set. It will be fascnating to see how the Cowboys defense performs.The WeaponsLed by Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers have a variety of weapons ready for the Cowboys defense right out of the gate in week one. The eighth overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft is a Swiss-army knife capable of making an impact as both a runner and as a receiver. McCaffrey totaled 1,306 yards and seven touchdowns from scrimmage on an average of 13 touches per game during his rookie campaign. This season, McCaffery could see as many as 25 touches per game, according to offensive coordinator Norv Turner.Needless to say, the Cowboys must identify where 22 is at all times, as the Stanford product showcased a little bit of what he can last season en route to averaging nearly six yards per touch in 2017. With a heavier workload this season — especially without long-time back Jonathan Stewart on the roster — McCaffrey should be near the top of the Cowboys’ concerns in week one.Elsewhere, the Panthers have some intriguing options at receiver and at tight end that the Cowboys must be prepared for; however, the sudden loss of dynamic back/slot receiver Curtis Samuel is one less weapon for Newton and Turner to utilize.Even still, Carolina’s pass-catchers include the likes of 6-foot-4 Devin Funchess, veteran tight end Greg Olsen, and new additions in free agent acquisition Torrey Smith and electrifying first-round draft pick D.J. Moore. Funchess, the team’s leading receiver, hauled in 840 yards and eight scores a season ago. Olsen only played in seven games last season — 17 catches, 191 yards Youth Allen Hurns Jersey
, one touchdown — due to a foot injury, but the 33-year old tight end has been a security blanket for Newton. The Cowboys must be aware of Olsen on third downs.Smith is a big play threat that has averaged over 16 yards per reception during his seven-season career. Last season, the Maryland product was on the opposite side of the field of Alshon Jeffery for the Eagles, where Smith grabbed 36 passes for 430 yards and a pair of scores. Don’t be surprised to see Newton attempt one or two deep shots to the veteran receiver on Sunday. Moore, another Maryland product, was the second wide receiver selected in the past NFL Draft. One of my favorite prospects in the class possesses nice size at 6-foot and 210-pounds to go with his 4.4 speed that makes him dangerous to find the end zone from anywhere on the field.Moore grabbed four passes for 75 yards in the Panthers’ preseason opener against the Bills in a win, but the first-rounder finished the next three games without recording a single catch. Are the Panthers hiding something as they gear up for the Cowboys, or is Moore struggling to adjust to the professional level? Norv Turner says Moore “will be a big part” of the offense.The Big UgliesThe Panthers aren’t exactly known for having an elite offensive line, but they did see their right tackle, Daryl Williams, reach second-team All-Pro status after a phenomenal season in 2017; however, Williams suffered a scary knee injury early in training camp. After initially expected to miss the first few games of the season, head coach Ron Rivera said on Friday that he is “building confidence” in his star tackle suiting up on Sunday.But how effective will he be in week one? Williams is not the only Carolina starter dealing with an injury as Sunday approaches. Starting left tackle Matt Kalil, who had an arthroscopic scope on his right knee during the preseason, was placed on injured reserve, meaning that he will miss at least the first eight games of the season. Amini Silatolu, the starter at left guard, is recovering from a torn meniscus and has been limited in practice — though, Rivera believes that he could play as well.As you can see, there is not a ton of depth along the Panthers’ front at the moment. When you add that to the fact that first team All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell departed in favor of a huge pay day with the Jaguars, DeMarcus Lawrence and company should be licking their chops. Pro Football Focus rated the Panthers offensive line as the 21st best in the NFL — and that was before the recent injuries.Getting to the quarterback and stopping the run are priorities number one against a team with such of a dynamic quarterback — especially with the uncertainty surrounding Carolina’s offensive line. Dallas’ front seven will have the opportunity to make the Panthers one-dimensional Stat to Know: 42.26% Third Down Percentage Carolina’s offense was among the best in converting third-down opportunities in 2017, as their 42.26% conversion percentage was good for seventh best in the NFL. If Dallas is going to have any chance to win this game, getting off of the field and giving the ball back into the hands of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott is crucial.Bottom Line:The Panthers have a plethora of weapons ready to unleash against the Cowboys, but the Dallas front seven has the potential to give the team a critical advantage that can take over a football game. While the Hot Boyz should eat plenty on Sunday, the linebackers and defensive backs will have a big say in whether or not the Cowboys will walk out with a ‘W’ on Sunday.Crunching stats: Eight things that show us the Cowboys are on the right trajectory My, things feel so much better after the Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants by a 20-13 score that made things look a lot closer than they actually were. It is a lot more fun to dive into the stats from the game to pull out some things that we can learn from. Stat sheet scouting is fraught with peril, but with a little judicious interpretation, we can still gather things to inform us going forward.6 for 6The Cowboys had six sacks of a shell shocked Eli Manning. (Isn’t it amazing how expressive his face is when things go awry?)Anyhow, as great as the game was for the pass rush (now second in the league in sacks), what is even better is how the sacks came about. Six different players got home on Manning, two defensive ends (Taco Charlton, DeMarcus Lawrence) Cheap Zack Martin Jersey
, two players from the interior of the line (Antwaun Woods, Tyrone Crawford), a linebacker (Damien Wilson), and a safety (Kavon Frazier). Having the sacks spread around is always good, much like getting the ball to a variety of receivers: The other team can’t focus on stopping your one big threat, because the threat comes from everywhere. And five of those sacks came when Dallas brought a blitz, which seems like a real departure from the way the team went about things before Kris Richard came to town. We may have seen the future, and it looks good.6 to 0In the loss to the Carolina Panthers, Dak Prescott took an Eli-level of abuse. Against the Giants, he was almost untouched unless he was running the ball for good yardage. New York could only get three hits on him the entire game when he was throwing. That was influenced a bit by the fact that the Giants don’t have near the front seven that the Panthers do, but it also shows that the Cowboys offensive line got a lot cleaned up in their week of prep for the second game. That will give Prescott a lot more confidence when he’s passing, and that is extremely helpful.64As in how many yards the deep throw to Tavon Austin covered for the touchdown just three plays into the game. It proved that Prescott could throw the ball deep, which affected the Giants’ defense for the rest of the game and opened up things for the team to amass 138 yards rushing. Once they got that big strike, the Cowboys were pretty much in control of things, even though the offense would regress until the final scoring drive to put things pretty much out of reach.6As in yards per play offensively for Dallas. (You may notice a theme to start things here.) As Bob Sturm noticed in his morning after piece at The Athletic:You may want to argue that the one long score pushed that average up, but that just means that it doesn’t matter how you get the yards. It is the efficiency that matters, and the Cowboys were much more efficient than New York, who only managed 3.8 yards per play, with much of their production coming after the Cowboys went into a prevent approach after building the lead to 20-3.2 for 2 twiceThat is from Brett Maher’s stat line, two field goals on two attempts and the same for extra points. After the miss in the season opener, it is no exaggeration that the fans breathed a collective sigh of relief at some real evidence that things will be OK without Dan Bailey (he is now going to play for the Minnesota Vikings in their indoor stadium, which should be good for him.)The new shape of the linebacking corpsHere are the key stats for the linebackers who saw action with the defense.Jaylon Smith: 10 tackles, one TFL, 84% of the defensive playsLeighton Vander Esch: 7 tackles, 41%Sean Lee: 5 tackles, 60%Damien Wilson: 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 QB hit, 1 pass defended, 1 forced fumble, 25%Joe Thomas: 1 tackle, 21%There’s a lot to unpack here. First Cheap Cole Beasley Jersey
, while Lee had a bit of a bounce back after his rather poor showing in the first game, he was not the workhorse we have become used to. Part of that was due to what he describes as a cramp in his hamstring, which may be a conditioning issue after he had so little work in preseason, but it also may be an early signal that Smith is becoming the new standard bearer for the group - and that is still such a remarkable story after so many thought Dallas had wasted that second-round pick on him. Vander Esch is starting to show he was not a wasted pick in the first, either, with good production on fairly limited snaps. It can still be argued that he was still a bit too costly in terms of draft capital, but he now has a definite “future starter” look to him. And Wilson, who also performed poorly in Carolina, had the biggest rebound of all, with a ridiculously productive day while only being on the field a quarter of the time. The defense is looking very solid from front to back.Speaking of the defense’s other unitsThe secondary may be a bit shallow, but they have come through big. After keeping Cam Newton from any long completions, they largely shut down Odell Beckham Jr. and didn’t let Saquon Barkley or Evan Engram do any significant damage either. Chidobe Awuzie and Kavon Frazier were on the field for all the defensive play, Byron Jones and Jeff Heath each only missed one after each was shaken up a bit, and Anthony Brown saw the field for 74% of the plays as the nickle corner. These guys are balling.And the defensive line is, as well. In addition to the three sacks, they amassed 11 tackles, 6 TFLs, 6 QB hits, and Charlton’s fumble recovery. But not all is perfectThere is still room for improvement. Dallas only converted 3 of 10 third downs. They had six penalties for 47 yards, which wiped out a couple of third down conversions. And Barkley evaded the first man to get to him on almost every play, which is partly a testament to his elusiveness with his perfectly timed spin moves, but also something that needs improvement. After the first couple of series, Prescott made very few attempts to go deep with his passes. And Elliott, while effective, only had 78 yards rushing, something the team really needs him to improve.Still, overall, the stats bear out that this was a convincing and badly-needed win. And it brings us to the most important stat of all:1-1, and tied for the NFC East lead.