Sports

Trouble in Dallas looks just like Carolina's

The quarterback is struggling. The defense is disappointing and lacking a pass rush. The coach is being questioned.

Sound like the Carolina Panthers?

Indeed. But all also are true of the Dallas Cowboys, the Panthers' opponent Monday night at super-sized Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Carolina's situation is more dire due to its 0-2 record, but the 1-1 Cowboys do not want to lose a second consecutive home game in The House Jerry Jones Built.

Here are the parallels in the teams' situations:

At quarterback, Tony Romo had one of the worst performances of his career in the Cowboys' 33-31 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night in the stadium's debut, drawing the ire of the 105,121 fans on hand.

Romo threw three interceptions that all led to Giants' touchdowns.

Carolina's Jake Delhomme had four interceptions and a fumble in Carolina's 38-10 season-opening loss at home to Philadelphia, but was much better in a 28-20 loss at Atlanta.

Delhomme ranks 31st in the NFL in passing efficiency, one spot ahead of Detroit rookie Matt Stafford. Romo ranks 19th.

On defense, Dallas led the NFL in sacks last season, but after two weeks is the only team without a sack.

That's surprising considering the fact that outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware topped all players with 20 sacks last season and the Cowboys had a sack in every regular season game the previous two years under coach Wade Phillips.

The Cowboys rank 30th in total defense, pass defense and opponents' average time of possession per game (34 minutes, 10 seconds).

The Panthers have to be thinking they'll have the opportunity to get into a groove offensively.

But the Cowboys' offense, which ranks first in the league in rushing and second overall, probably has similar aspirations against a Carolina defense tied for 27th vs. the run.

Even with starting running back Marion Barber questionable due to a hamstring injury, the Cowboys have dangerous runners in Felix Jones and Tashard Choice to send into the heart of a Carolina defense riddled with injuries at the tackle position.

The Panthers' pass rush also has been less than spectacular. The Panthers have two sacks, including one by Pro Bowl end Julius Peppers.

Interestingly, when Peppers said after last season he wanted to play elsewhere in a defense scheme that could best take advantage of his talents, Dallas was one of the teams on his short list of preferred destinations.

After Monday night, we'll know whether the Cowboys needed him or not.

Charles Chandler: (704) 358-5123 and @CharlesChandler on Twitter.

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