The Dallas Cowboys opening-week loss to the Carolina Panthers was almost as bad as it gets. Most of the team looked like they were still playing in games that didn’t matter.
Carolina didn’t look that much better, but it was much more successful than Dallas in just about every facet of the game. Carolina bested Dallas in time of possession, penalties, yards, first downs and of course the final score.
Even though this week has now been filled with backlash for Dak Prescott and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, there were several positive takeaways from the loss that aren’t being discussed.
Yes, the Cowboys offense was extremely unimpressive in Week 1. They managed to net only eight points and in general, things just didn’t look good. Without question, part of this issue is based around Prescott and his production with this new look receiving corps.
Someone who was part of the solution was Cole Beasley. The seven-year veteran finally looked like the receiver Cowboys fans had grown accustomed to, not the one who was vastly disappointing last year.
Beasley caught seven-of-eight targets for 73 yards. He led the team in both categories.
With Jason Witten retired, Prescott will need someone to step up and be a security blanket during tough downs. It appears Beasley will need to take over that role completely in order for Dallas to be respectable through the air.
The Cowboys best defensive player from a year ago continued his stellar play into the new season. Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence had seven total tackles, including three for loss, and a sack on Sunday. He also recovered a fumble for Dallas’ lone turnover.
Lawrence didn’t do enough to drastically change the game, but he certainly did his part. The Cowboys linebackers were beyond disappointing and the main reason Carolina was able to rush for nearly 150 yards.
If the Cowboys plan to do anything this season, they’ll need Lawrence to be a consistent disruptor every single week. He’ll be looking to continue his quality play this week to slow down Eli Manning and the Giants’ playmakers.
It’s obviously not a great sign when your punter had one of the better games on the team. Well, here the Cowboys are.
Unfortunately, Chris Jones was forced to punt six times in Dallas’ opener. The good news is that he did a fantastic job, averaging 48.8 yards while planting two inside the 20-yard line as well.
Of course the Cowboys will be looking to keep Jones on the bench for the duration of their next game, but knowing they’re solid in this portion of the kicking game is comforting.
Another receiver who impressed was Deonte Thompson. Although his playing time compared to some other notable wideouts was definitely interesting, Thompson played and contributed more than most anticipated.
The 29-year-old tallied three receptions for 27 yards. In normal circumstances, these stats wouldn’t be very exciting. However, the three catches and 27 yards were good enough for second most on the team behind only Beasley.
Many expected rookie Michael Gallup and veteran Terrance Williams to pace the team on the outside, but it was Thompson who got more snaps than both of them. Thompson totaled 30 snaps compared to 29 for Gallup and just 19 for Williams.
Thompson’s game would’ve been even better had he come up with a 4th-down reception that bounced off his hands in the game’s waning moments. It was a difficult play to make, but the receiver would’ve told you he should have caught it.
The most surprising performance Sunday came from defensive tackle Daniel Ross. With just a limited role in 17 snaps, Ross had the biggest impact play on defense by forcing a fumble and getting Dallas its only turnover of the game.
Ross blew through the Carolina line and punched the ball out of running back Christian McCaffrey’s grip as he was looking to get a first down and touchdown from right outside the end zone. Dallas hopped on the loose ball and stopped the Panthers from scoring any points.
Ross’ performance was so notable that he actually was the highest-graded defensive player throughout the entire league in Week 1, according to Pro Football Focus. His 94.9 grade just beat out Jets linebacker Darron Lee.
Now Dallas shouldn’t be leaning on Ross to be their go-to guy in the trenches, but if he can contribute these types of meaningful plays, Ross should see a lot more playing time moving forward.