Panthers need to get offense going vs. explosive Cowboys
Posted on: 17 Nov, 2023 at 07:36 PM
Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
There are increasing signs that the Dallas Cowboys have put their offense in good order.
That's far from the case for the Carolina Panthers.
The Cowboys will try to keep it going when they face the Panthers on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte.
Dallas (6-3) has won three of its last four games, with the offense a big part of that success. The Panthers (1-8) have the worst record in the NFL.
The Cowboys are the lone team in the NFL this season who have reached the 40-point level in three different games.
"This past month, we're hitting on all cylinders," Dallas coach Mike McCarthy said.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott might be hitting another level. He threw for 404 yards last weekend against the New York Giants, giving him three consecutive games above the 300-yard mark.
Dallas receivers CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks both eclipsed the 150-yard receiving mark last week, and the Cowboys ran for 168 yards.
"We're getting through the run schemes that are able to carry over into the actual pass game," McCarthy said. "We're doing a lot more (on) third down. I do think it's a product of us hitting our stride."
Lamb is the first player in NFL history with three straight games of double-figure catches and 150-plus receiving yards.
"I don't even want to call it a streak because that's just who he is," Prescott said.
Looking ahead to dealing with the Cowboys' passing attack, the Panthers are getting pass rusher Brian Burns back this week. Dallas hit the end of the week with only one player on the injury report, but left tackle Tyron Smith was given the time off to rest.
Carolina's offense remains in flux. The Panthers had extra time since their Thursday, Nov. 9, loss at Chicago, bringing suggestions that changes could be in the works. Those are mostly related to a low-producing offense.
On Wednesday, coach Frank Reich said he is taking back play-calling duties from Thomas Brown, who replaced Reich in that role several weeks ago.
"It's not about Thomas. It's about me, the team," Reich said. "I just think it's the right thing to do. Whoever has done the play-calling, we haven't performed as an offense."
The Cowboys are a strong pass-rushing team, so expect to see them work hard to disrupt rookie Carolina quarterback Bryce Young.
Alleviating pressure on Young is one of the Panthers' priorities. More production from the rushing attack would help, but don't expect an overhaul in philosophy.
"Do we want to be smashmouth football, under center, power?" Reich said. "No, that's not who we're trying to be."
Changes along the offensive line have come this week. Carolina released Calvin Throckmorton, who had started the previous seven games. It's possible that rookie Chandler Zavala could be inserted as the starting left guard. The Panthers filled Throckmorton's roster spot by re-signing David Sharpe.
The tight end position could be a challenge for Carolina. Ian Thomas (calf) was designated to return from IR and was listed as questionable on Friday. Hayden Hurst is in the concussion protocol and is one of four players out this week. CBs C.J. Henderson (concussion) and Jaycee Horn (hamstring) are out, as is linebacker Marquis Haynes (back).
Dallas is 10-3 all-time against Carolina in regular-season games, including a 36-28 home victory in 2021.
--Field Level Media