Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the offensive line was “a little soft in the middle” at times in Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and that it affected Tony Romo.
“Tony was getting hit, and Tony was feeling that pressure in front of him,” Garrett said in Monday’s press conference at Valley Ranch. “I thought Tony did a good job of moving around, but also standing in there and making some throws with some people around him. Again, I’ll keep saying it – at times it was good, other times, it was too much penetration, and we’ve just got to continue to shore it up.”
Garrett said guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings, signed in free agency to provide a better base up the middle, have been up and down, but that’s everyone on the line of scrimmage.
Asked about the most veteran member of the line, Doug Free, and what he can do to improve in pass protection, Garrett said, “I think he needs to be firmer. There were times in the ballgame, the defensive end got into him and knocked him back. But there were other times he regained his anchor and sat in there and blocked him pretty well. Being consistent and not getting pushed back into the quarterback would be first and foremost. There were a couple of other things that came up that led to some pressures and some hurries on the quarterback, but that's across the board, I can go through every player on our team and pick out a lot of different things and what we try to do as coaches when they leave today is give them things to focus on.”
Garrett said center Phil Costa, who has been out with a bad back since the first series of the Giants game, might start working “in the next week or so.”
Garrett said injuries have affected the transition to new offensive line coach Bill Callahan.
“I think Bill’s done a great job,” Garrett said. “We've had some different kinds of combinations of guys playing from the middle of training camp on because of some injuries. We’ve had some new players, so it's going to take time for those guys to play next to each other and communicate to a level where they need to communicate.”
--- Carlos Mendez