Dallas Cowboys need to quickly find their ‘go-to’ on offense

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By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Dak Prescott) [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dwain Price, NDG Sports

FRISCO — For those who wish to know the results of the Dallas Cowboys’ game at the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday, all that’s needed is to read the results of the Cowboys’ game at the Carolina Panthers three weeks ago.

Different opponent. Different side of the United States. Same results.

The same way the Cowboys’ offense sputtered and was badgered during their 16-8 opening-day loss to the Panthers is the way they sputtered as they were badgered during their 24-13 loss to the Seahawks. And as was the case against the Panthers, there was plenty of blame to go around after that debacle on the Pacific Northwest.

At this juncture in the Cowboys’ 1-2 season, it’s difficult to pinpoint whether the main issues are quarterback Dak Prescott’s passing, poor play-calling by offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, or an offensive line that is struggling profusely without injured center Travis Frederick. Perhaps all of that has led to an embarrassing offensive performance that has seen the Cowboys score a total of just 41 points in their three games this season.

“We’ve got to find exactly our go-to — our go-to in the passing game,” Prescott said. “And not necessarily I’m speaking on a player.

“I’m just speaking on our go-to concepts, our go-to beaters, or whatever it may be that we can get to and we always know that’s in our back pocket that can get us some yards, get us out when we’re back up to the chain, get us back on pace.”

Prescott was just 19-of-34 for 168 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions against the Seahawks. He also was harassed all day by the Seattle defenders, who sacked him five times.

“It starts up front protecting No. 4 (Prescott), and then executing,” right guard Zack Martin said. “We’ve got to do a better job giving him time to let routes develop, to get the ball downfield and we just haven’t done that this year.”

During Prescott’ rookie season in 2016, he completed 67.8 percent of his passes for an average of 229 yards per game with 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions. In the first three games this season he’s completed 61.4 percent of his passes for only 166 yards per game with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

“He’s certainly a part of (the problem), as are the 10 other guys (on offense) and as are every coach,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We’re all a part of this.”
Garrett wouldn’t say if Linehan’s play-calling – or lack thereof– is the problem.

“We’re not going to go down that road right now,” Garrett said. “I have a lot of confidence in Scott Linehan. He’s been an outstanding coordinator in this league for a long time, and an outstanding coordinator for us, and he’s been an outstanding play-caller for us.

“I think it would be false for me to say this is about play-calling. What we need to do is get better on offense.”

Running back Ezekiel Elliott pinned the loss to the Seahawks on himself. Granted, Elliott rushed for 127 yards on just 16 carries in his best rushing performance of the season, but Elliott also committed some mind-blogging blunders that were critical in Sunday’s game.

For starters, Elliott had a touchdown reception nullified because he stepped out of bounds and was (illegally) the first player to touch the ball after he got back inbounds. He also dropped a key pass and lost a fumble late in the game when the Cowboys were trying to stage a rally.

“I had terrible awareness of the sideline,” Elliott said. “I’ve got to be better than that.

“I had a poor performance. I did well in the running game, but overall I dropped the ball. So that loss is on me.”

While the Cowboys may appreciate Elliott’s candor, they know all of their troubles didn’t land at his footsteps.

“He does more good for us any time than bad,” wide receiver Cole Beasley said of Elliott. “It’s never one guy. It’s a team effort.

“We just got to put it together – all of us as a unit. Then we’ll be OK.”

The Cowboys also have to put it together on third down. For the season the Cowboys are just 8-of-34 on third downs, and that’s a recipe for disaster.

“I’ve got to go back and look at this game on the tape and see exactly the reasons before I try to pinpoint one specific part of our game, or our offense, on why the third downs didn’t work,” Prescott said. “But we’ve got to do better converting those third-and-short first, and then keeping ourselves in third-and-short and not necessarily third-and-long.”

Another thing the Cowboys know they must convert is their fair share of deep balls. However, for some unknown reasons, the Cowboys don’t throw a lot of deep balls.