Offensive line coach Bill Callahan spoke plainly to reporters Wednesday at Valley Ranch.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat this. We did not play well, and we are not playing well right now,” he said.
He said the Cowboys offensive linemen are giving effort, but their technique needs practice. He said he has told right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau that the Cowboys need more from him, that left guard Nate Livings didn’t play as well last week as he did in the first two games, that right tackle Doug Free gets caught off balance sometimes and that left tackle Tyron Smith showed improvement from Seattle to Tampa and had a strong game.
On Bernadeau, Callahan said, “I think he is what he is. I think he is what we thought he was. We want more from him. I’ve made this point to him. I’m not trying to send a message through the media to him, but we’ve sat down very point blank, very frank, and just told him, ‘Hey, we need to get you better. We’re going to keep working to get you better. I’ve got to do a better job.’ I’ve got to do a better job with him, and we’re working together to try to make him the player he can be.
On Livings, Callahan said, “He played real solid and consistent for his first two games, and then last week, he kind of faltered in some areas. He’s still been one of our most consistent players.”
Callahan said Free’s problem is consistency and balance, but that Free is diligent about trying to improve.
“There are times when he will be in position and get off balanced, but overall he has done pretty solid,” Callahan said. “There are those plays that show up and there might be an overset or there might be a flush. There might be a rusher that gives him a problem here or there.”
Callahan said Smith has been playing well.
“Last game, you would have to say Tyron did an outstanding job,” Callahan said. “The week before, we worked on trying to get him more balanced in his pass set. He did a nice job against [Adrian] Clayborn. So we came away from last week’s performance against Clayborn feeling really good, although he faces a matchup against Julius Peppers on Monday night that you are facing one of the best pass rushers in the history of the game, so he has got his work cut out. But he did improve. He did improve from the Seattle game going into the Tampa game. He did a lot of things technically that helped his performance.”
Callahan said the line’s performance in the opener against the Giants provided optimism.
“We came out of the New York game feeling pretty good,” he said. “We played good against a formidable front. We had some issues with the cadence and silent count on the road. Then we felt really good going up to Seattle where we corrected that going into one of the most hostile environments in the NFL and we had one false start. Our goal is to have none in a really tough situation. We saw the other night, eight sacks in one half is pretty tough, and we come away from the game and we only gave up one sack.
“So there were a lot of positives things in that game. So coming up against Tampa Bay we felt we had corrected the cadence issues. It wasn't resolved yet. It was a little different. We weren't on a silent count. We were doing some other things with it that I really don’t want to get into. We got it corrected. We will see. Talk is cheap. We have to go out there Monday and show people we got it right.”
Callahan isn’t blaming the pre-snap problems on new center Ryan Cook.
“I think there was early, when he first came in,” Callahan said. “The guys really helped him in New York with the silent count. And then I think we had one instance of a cadence issue Sunday against Tampa. Other than that, he’s been really solid and really consistent.”
-- Carlos Mendez