Monday, September 28, 2009
Cowboys-Panthers: What will we learn?
By Dan Graziano
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
I'm headed over to a "Monday Night Football" Chalk Talk session in downtown Dallas, but here are my quick-hit thoughts on tonight's game:
- The only way the Cowboys lose is if they're unable to pressure Jake Delhomme. At this stage in his career, Delhomme is a pick-six waiting to happen. The Cowboys need someone other than DeMarcus Ware to apply pressure against the Panthers. If Delhomme has time in the pocket, he's still capable of picking you apart.
- Jason Garrett has to establish the run early. The Panthers have allowed an average of 168 rushing yards through two games. Even with Marion Barber probably out with an injury to his left quadriceps, the Cowboys have enough depth to be successful. The Panthers are thin in the middle, so Felix Jones and Tashard Choice don't need to try and cut everything outside. Tashard Choice is an effective inside runner, and I think he's capable of having a big game.
- I think Martellus Bennett's about to have a breakout game. So far, Jason Witten has put up the best numbers in the Cowboys' celebrated (locally) two-tight end offense. The Panthers will focus on stopping Witten, which means Bennett could have more opportunities. He's an excellent athlete who also does a nice job blocking. Wouldn't surprise me for Bennett to have four or five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.
- The Cowboys were much better against the run last Sunday. But DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are a lot different than Brandon Jacobs. They both have the ability to turn a little seam into a huge gain. If the Cowboys are going to run blitz, they better be under control. And that means you, Ken Hamlin.
- Stay on top of Tony Romo. Garrett doesn't need to put Romo in situations where he's going to make a big mistake. Get him in rhythm early with some quick slants to Roy Williams. Then you can build on that. Don't take shots downfield just for the sake of opening things up in the running game. There's a chance you can run on this team without that threat.