Every team suffers injuries and Dallas is no stranger to that. They come into this game down a gang of players on defense that would be a part of the rotation.
However, not many teams lose a guy who is responsible for as much of their offense as Christian McCaffrey has been to Carolina. Since 2017 his usage on offense has continued to rise.
2017 70% usage on offense
McCaffrey will be OUT vs the Cowboys after suffering a hamstring injury early last week vs the Texans. The panthers are no stranger to being without him as he missed 13 games in 2020.
But as former Cowboy Cam Erving said “this isn’t the Carolina Christian McCaffreys”. So how does Dallas match up against the remaining weapons?
The rookie RB filled in admirably for McCaffrey vs the Texans who received 40 of the 73 snaps. He saw 14 touches for 79 yards with a long of 14 yards.
Hubbard won’t be able to replace what McCaffrey does but according to coach Rhule, they won’t change up their game plan.
“I don’t think it’s fair, right, to Sam [Darnold] and to the offensive line to go away from what we’ve been doing. We’ve been working on it for a long time.”
The 4th year veteran WR is quickly becoming one of the most reliable in the NFL. He is already the favorite target of QB Sam Darnold. He leads the Panthers with 31 targets, 22 receptions, 285 yards, and 1 TD.
Moore does pretty much everything well and Darnold trusts him in any spot on the field. In studying their chemistry it’s evident to see Darnold will target Moore early and often.
Would not shock me if Moore draws NFC defensive player of the month, CB Trevon Diggs, in star coverage on Sunday.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 30, 2021
Anderson is the forgotten weapon on the Panthers’ offense, but you have to wonder if Darnold tends to forget him too.
Three games in Anderson has been pretty quiet in this Darnold-led offense. He has 11 targets and only 5 receptions. One of them is a bomb for a touchdown, bombs being his specialty.
— SportsGridTV (@SportsGridTV) September 12, 2021
The speedster was stellar in the first 3 weeks in 2020 under QB Teddy Bridgewater accumulating 23 targets, 20 receptions, and 2 100 yard games.
You have to think without McCaffrey, Anderson will be counted on a little more in this matchup. I can see offensive coordinator Joe Brady trying to find ways to get him 1 on 1 up with CB Anthony Brown often.
This is a game the Cowboys defense will have the opportunity to make plays. But they will have to remain disciplined and sound in tackling. The Achilles heel for the Dallas defense so far has been big plays.
They rank last in the league with 20 plus yard plays given up. On the opposite end, Carolina ranks 6th in the league in said plays on offense. If the Cowboys can minimize that, they have a good chance to bottle up a McCaffrey-less Panthers offense.
Feature image: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports