There is plenty of negative news coming out of the Cowboys 2018 season-opener loss to the Panthers. An anemic showing by the offense has basically overpowered any other narrative. Now that we’ve had a little bit of time to sit back and digest, we should recognize the fact that the Cowboys defense was ready to play. The offense and special teams (we’re looking at you Brett Maher) need to figure out their issues rather quickly, but if the Cowboys defense keeps playing like they did on Sunday, the team will be in position to win some football games.
For a game ball award, we’ll go ahead and pick one member of the defense for special recognition.
The Cowboys star defensive end didn’t disappoint as he had six solo tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack and one fumble recovery. The Lawrence we saw last year showed up again this year. Not only was he making plays, but several T.V. shots of the defense between plays showed Lawrence talking to his fellow defenders, exhorting them to perform. In short, he was leading. For his efforts, Tank gets the game ball.
While we’re here, let’s talk about the defense as a whole. First off, the most important metric - 16 points allowed. Normally, you’re going to win a lot of games allowing only 16 points. Scoring defense is the number one stat and the Cowboys defense passed, especially on a day when their offense gave them no help at all.
During the game, we were all focusing like a laser on the Cowboys awful offense, so it was easy to miss some of the things the defense did. Like forcing two fumbles and recovering one. They also almost had an interception.
Cam Newton only passed for 161 yards and had an 82.4 QB rating. The Panthers were four of 12 on third-down conversions and they were held under 300 yards (293). The defense came up with three sacks on the day.
Yes, it’s kind of ridiculous to do comparative stats with other defenses after Week 1, but they do show how well the Cowboys did. They are fifth in total yards allowed, they are sixth in scoring defense, and they are ninth in sacks.
Where they did fall down is in rushing defense. The team could not solve the problem of Cam Newton running the ball, he was Carolina’s leading rusher with 58 yards. They also allowed 4.6 yards per attempt, some of this has to do with Sean Lee’s terrible performance. One would hope he’ll turn things around quickly.
All in all, though, Cowboys fans should at least be pleased with this side of the ball. At least one of the three phases of the game came ready to play, while the offense and special teams need to prove themselves in Week 2.