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4th and Short Podcast: The 2018 season is here and the Dallas
 
 Cowboys are here Brian Customized Carolina  Panthers Jerseys , Brad, and Jon preview the Panthers season opener  against America’s team, the one and only Dallas Cowboys. To kick it off, we  stand in solidarity with Panthers fans who are accepting insane amounts of money  from Cowboys fans for selling their season tickets. As for the game, we talk  about who they anticipate will start along the offensive line for the Panthers  and how well that group will hold up against DeMarcus Lawrence and the rest of  the Cowboys pass rush. We transition into general discussions about the Panthers  offense versus the Cowboys defense before flipping the script and talking about  the Cowboys offense versus the Panthers defense. We discuss the lack of Cowboys  weaponry beyond Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys god-awful approach to repeatedly  running the ball on first down. There are also a couple of peeks behind the  curtain. The cold open is a quick summary of an article I researched but didn’t  write, and we give you a taste of what Brian is like as a member of a group  chat. Join us for about 40 minutes of good Panthers talk. Click here if the  embed doesn’t work.Follow us on Twitter!Cat Scratch Reader @catscratchreadrBrain  @brianbeversluisBrad @bdubsmittyJon @JonDeLong42Monday Morning Optimist: The  Carolina Panthers introduced Efe Obada to Andy Dalton and learned about  themselves in the process The Panthers had a couple of lingering questions from  the offseason that proved major factors for their loss in Atlanta. The pass rush  was anemic, the secondary was either very young or very old www.authenticscarolinapanthers.com ,  and the running game sounded too dependent on a paper thin offensive line  blocking for a guy that some didn’t believe could run through the tackles. They  answered them Sunday, taking time to emphasize each weakness and fear that was  exposed by their game against the Falcons.Matt Ryan moved the ball at will and  Cam Newton had trouble keeping the offense on schedule. These were not great  developments before a Week 3 date with the Bengals, who had been one of the  stronger and more efficient teams in the league to start the 2018 season.Let’s  not kid ourselves and think this would have been the same game if AJ Green had  stayed healthy. Andy Dalton made great use of the rest of his offensive skill  players, but you can’t discount the effect of losing one of the best receivers  in the game. That said, Efe Obada may have enjoyed a bigger shoot out. It would  have given him more opportunities to rush the passer.The Panthers bye week comes  at the perfect time for fans to revel in the glory that is their new breakout  star defensive end. Obada has gone from feel-good story of the year to the heir  apparent to Julius Peppers off the strength of one game (and a solid preseason).  Is it too early to crown this man? Absolutely. Do we care today? Absolutely  not.Obada was part of a resurgence of the Panthers defensive line that saw Mario  Addison, Peppers, and Obada make huge plays while a handful of other players  delivered key pressures. They answered the questions about the pass rush.Donte  Jackson was his own revelation. The rookie corner stayed stride for stride down  the field with Bengals’ speedster John Ross and hauled in two interceptions to  punctuate a statement game. It turns out being very young is not a cause for  concern in this secondary unit.Some of what happened yesterday was luck. Let’s  march all day in Obada’s parade Carolina  Panthers T-Shirt , but only if we acknowledge that his interception  was a one in a million play. It was incredibly athletic. We should praise his  awareness. We should also buy a round for Bengals’ fans because we’ve all been  on the other side of those. Still, the tipped ball was a good play for the line.  It was proof of a success that was nonexistent just a week ago. The Panthers  would be 3-0 right now if this defense had shown up to play against the Atlanta  Falcons.There can’t be optimism about Cam Newton’s performance since he proved  yesterday that he is regressing as a passer. His 62.5% completion rating was a  season low and thus a sign that the end is nigh. Woe is he.Fortunately,  Christian McCaffrey was there to save the offense. He provided a consistency  that Rivera must have loved. With 28 carries for 184 yards, McCaffrey finally  out performed his quarterback on the ground. He also proved once and for all  that he can run between the tackles. He also ran around some tackles. He also  ran straight through at least one would-be tackler.Keep in mind, McCaffrey’s  career day came behind that paper thin offensive line we spent so many weeks  being worried about. I’m going to continue to be amazed at how well Chris Clark  has done at the left tackle position so far. The Panthers may give him a lot of  help in pass protection, but he’s at least good enough that his help is  effective. That hasn’t always been the case when the Panthers leave in extra  blockers.Now, if Newton can just keep his wide receivers from dropping perfectly  accurate passes then he can finally take that next step toward being a decent  quarterback. That is all that is standing between this team and a fifth trip to  the playoffs under Rivera.Jokes aside Carolina Panthers  Hats , it seems as if the Panthers have found ways to adjust to  their weaknesses and to answer those questions from the start of the season.  They now have the bye week to look back more closely at what went right against  Dallas, what went wrong in Atlanta, and how much they liked their game plan  against Cincinnati. That is a good position to be in when facing down the rest  of the season. And it leaves us fans two weeks to loop Efe Obada’s highlight  reel.
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