Panthers’ issues on full display in Monday night loss to Cowboys

For those who couldn’t tune into Monday night’s game between the Cowboys and the Panthers, you didn’t miss much.

The Cowboys were sloppy, the Panthers were sloppier and thus Dallas won the ultimate snooze fest 21-7. Victories are hard to come by in the NFL, but if I were Wade Phillips or Jerry Jones, I wouldn’t be breaking out the party favors and bubbly after this one.

The Panthers are bad – real bad. And it’s not fair to pin all of their problems on Jake Delhomme, who threw two more interceptions tonight to run his season total to 407. Delhomme has been bad, but he’s hardly the only reason why Carolina is 0-3 right now and has little to no chance of repeating as NFC South champions.

The Panthers might as well cheat and set up speed bumps on every play, because their run defense is horrible. The Cowboys rushed for 212 yards tonight on 32 carries (6.6 YPC) without Marion Barber as Carolina made Felix Jones and Tashard Choice look like Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen.

Another issue for the Panthers is their inability to convert on third down. They came into the game tonight ranked 26th in third-down conversions and then on cue, went 1 for 8 against Dallas. Teams can’t win in the NFL if they can’t convert on third downs and Carolina is living proof of that right now.

John Fox and his coaching staff don’t escape blame for the Panthers’ woes either. In three games this season, Carolina has zero third quarter points. That means Fox and his coaching staff is failing to make adjustments at half time and the players are at a disadvantage because they’re always trailing heading into the fourth quarter. I understand that Fox doesn’t pass, block or tackle, but zero third quarter points in three games is just one telltale sign that he has been completely outcoached.

The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for Carolina. They need to figure out how to get back to running the football and taking the game out of Delhomme’s hands. They also need to use the ground attack to keep their Swiss cheese defense on the sidelines and control the time of possession. If they fail to do that, then the Panthers are going to continue to struggle and one has to wonder if Fox is long for his job in Carolina.

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