Panthers run defense porous against first big test of the season
The Carolina Panthers went into their matchup with the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday as the top rated defense in the NFL. But on Monday, after facing Dallas' two-headed rushing attack featuring Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, Matt Rhule as well as his most dominant defenders understood there was significant work to be done. "It's kind of a pick your poison deal," Rhule said referring to the Cowboys offense.
"I had no issue with our player's effort."
Rhule and Panthers' linebackers Hasson Reddick and Jermaine Carter all agreed the biggest point of adjustments needed to be with technique. "Across the board technique has to be better and that was the biggest thing right there," Reddick said.
The Cowboys gained 245 rushing yards, in the 36-28 victory. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 143 yards on 20 carries, his only performance to garner more than 100-yards since 2018. The combined on-the-ground effort by Dallas was 200 yards more than the Panthers have allowed all year. What's troubling is how Carolina performs in the second half. Despite being able to win the first three contests of the season and except for the matchup against Houston, the Panthers have struggled keeping up the momentum in the second half of games this season.
Understandably, the successful rushing attack by Dallas also made it a struggle to defend the against the air attack. After holding the Cowboys to only 13-points in the first half, the Panthers' defense allowed three Dak Prescott touchdowns in the third quarter.
Rhule also spoke about his team's grittiness and will to fight and felt assured that this week would give them the opportunity to get better with that phase of the game. They'll have a chance to begin putting things back together on Wednesday as they prepare for the Philadelphia Eagles this coming Sunday.