The Dallas Cowboys’ offense snapped the ball 66 times in Sunday’s 16-10 escape against Tampa Bay and experienced negative results on 24 occasions.
The total includes turnovers, penalties and plays that resulted in lost yardage. But the biggest culprit was 13 penalties for 105 yards, including six false starts. Such numbers are way beyond the team’s area of acceptability for self-inflicted wounds, coach Jason Garrett said Monday.
“Zero is the target area, obviously. And that’s what we have to get to,” Garrett said. “Ironically enough, we did a lot of good things on offense. But we did them from second-and-11, second-and-16, third-and-long. There were a lot of situations that made it very difficult to run our offense.”
First and foremost were the pre-snap penalties. Right tackle Doug Free had three of the six false starts. Tight end Jason Witten had two. The other was credited to left tackle Tyron Smith, his fifth in three games.
Garrett said lack of continuity in a rebuilt and injury-plagued offensive line has been a factor but is “not an excuse” for consistently playing behind the chains on offense. Asked about a potential fix before Monday’s game against Chicago, Garrett said: “You try … to simplify some of the conversation that is happening or clean up some of the conversation that is happing. We just have to correct it.”
Receiver Miles Austin said the onus is on players, not just coaches, to make the corrections.
“It’s tough to get a rhythm when you have a couple of penalties and you’re starting first-and-15, second-and-20, stuff like that,” Austin said. “We’re hopefully going to put a little bit more attention on that as players.”
_ Jimmy Burch