The Good, the Bad, and the Dak at Carolina (11/19/2023)

This is another game where I could only follow the events of the game as they happened on Dallas at Carolina - Yahoo Sports - 11/19/29. Images and highlights are from: Cowboys/Panthers highlights - YouTube - NFL - 11/19/2023.

The Good:

1. Jimmy to the Ring of Honor: This came a bit before the game as Jimmy was present at the game in Carolina to talk with Jerry before the game started and was likely his role on Fox's pregame show for the day. It then came with an added surprise as Jerry then said to Jimmy that the coach who won two Super Bowls for Dallas will be inducted into the ring of honor in December... That's great... overdue, but great.

2. Parsons: The team got six sacks on the whole, but the leader of the defense was there to get the most sacks of any one player... 2.5.

3. Spreading the ball around: In some ways, this game was a step back from the previous four games in that the offense wasn't as explosive as in those past four games and no one receiver had a truly massive number of yards... with Cooks having the most at 42 yards in the game. But some of that could be more the nature of the defense... as in the linked highlights, it's mentioned that the Panthers would run a heavy zone coverage which is generally designed to limit a lot of those sorts of big plays that we'd gotten in the previous games. To make up for it, though, the ball was spread around to a good number of members in the receiving corps. Nine different guys caught at least one pass... so while no one had outstanding individual stats in the receiving game... just about everyone was involved.

4. Bland: Another pick six, which ties an in season record with about half the season to go... He continues to go and go well... And I'd argue he needs to change his name... for he is hardly bland. He is exciting.

5. Pollard: He didn't have over 100 yards rushing, but he did run for a very good average yards per rush, 5.1, and had the biggest single running play of the day, a 21-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

6. Redzone offense: We didn't necessarily get there that often... particularly as the offense began to stall a bit in the second half, but when the team did make it there, it did count. Schoonmaker got his second TD pass of the season on the team's second drive and Lamb had a 5-yard TD reception before halftime.

7. Back-to-back backup games: The offense may not have had the massive number of yards that were there in the previous games... but it did do well enough to build a very good lead to where Cooper Rush came in late in the game... and even he moved the ball fairly well. The big thing here, though, was more to be ready for the short week coming before hosting the Commanders for Thanksgiving.

The Bad:

1. Rush defense: Both Sanders and Hubbard ran all over the defense in the game... sometimes the gains were limited, more often than not, they were running forward with no problems and which in turn gave the Panthers more than 100 yards rushing as a team and with both Sanders and Hubbard having over 50 yards each. The only Panther not a good day running was Young, and that was set more by the lost fumble in the second half.

2. Being lucky rather than good: Against better teams... this may not be much of an issue... but within the context of this game, it is more of a negative. For at times, the offense did fall into problematic spots with a long down and distance to go and were ultimately rescued by the Panthers committing penalties. In fact, the drive that set up Lamb's TD catch was really only possible because of a horse collar tackle and an unnecessary roughness penalty on Carolina. Without those penalties, it's likely that Dallas would have only gotten a field goal there rather than a touchdown.

3. Defending on 4th down: Carolina went for it 3 times and converted all three times.

4. Running into the punter: This wasn't a penalty that outright gave the Panthers a first down, but it did take away a punt that would have given the ball to Dallas and set the Panthers up with a 4th and 2 and would then see them go for it after the penalty... and set up the drive that got the Panthers their lone TD of the game.

The Dak:

If one were to compare this week's stats to last week's, one would think that Dak really had a bad day... He completed about 66% of his passes and had two TDs, both in the redzone. But he only threw for 189 yards, less than half of what he threw for against the Giants, and ultimately the scores that would see to Cooper Rush coming onto the field were a defensive TD and a rushing TD from Pollard. So, on the surface, it would seem that Dak struggled more in this game than he did in the previous 4... and there may be some room for the claim.

But given what is mentioned in the linked set of highlights in that Carolina would be running more zone coverage than anything else... I think there is some context here. Particularly when we consider that Dak has traditionally struggled against zone defenses and has often thrown most of his picks against a zone coverage. That then adds to the importance of the two touchdowns he threw for, as both were in the redzone and in situations where Dak has also traditionally struggled. So, he may not have had as many yards as he did against the Giants... and someone may be critical of the fact that he also seemed to fade a bit in the third quarter... he had a fairly productive day and did the best with what the defense gave him. Which is ultimately a GOOD thing.

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