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Cowboys news: Chicken or egg, is it the players or the coaches at fault in Dallas?

When things are going badly, the barbs fly.

Chicago Bears v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Is play-calling really to blame for Cowboys' struggles? Here's what Brad Sham thinks - SportsDay staff
In this transcript of podcast hosted by David Moore, play-by-play legend Brad Sham offers some great thoughts on the issue of offensive play calls.

The play-calling thing is one of the great misnomers in this sport. Everyone listening, every Morning News reader, everyone with access to the internet knows in his or her heart that they're a better play caller than the idiots who are doing it here. That's not just for the last five or six years, that's the last 40 years that I'm aware of.

Every play is five plays. Every play has options that the quarterback has to execute. Some of people's Tony Romo plays have nothing to do with what got sent in from the bench. I would remind people that at this same point in his career that Prescott's at now, Romo wasn't on the field yet. I understand we're in a different age. We have five rookie quarterbacks starting now, but experience does matter.

I asked the question after the game in Carolina, the ball didn't go down the field, everybody could see that and that's probably a mistake, is that play-calling or quarterback decisions? The answer is yes. The answer is they had some plays in where one of the options was take a shot. And the quarterback looked at it and said that's not what I think is gonna work here so he did something else. Could they force the issue? Sure, sure they could. I think forcing the issue and giving the quarterback no option is a pretty dangerous thing. I don't think it's a recipe for success. But they could certainly stress this week, and frankly I'd think it'd be a great idea, let's look for the opportunities to stress it out a little bit. They have at least two guys that can do that in Thompson and Austin.

Cowboys' offensive play-calling could be better, but the bigger issue is the talent on the field - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota took some questions, and he chimes in on the play-calling as well.

Q: Is fixing the offense's woes as simple as just changing up the play-calling? Is there more to it than that?

Machota: The play-calling could be better, but I think the bigger issue is the talent on the field. Dak Prescott hasn't played well and not having an elite go-to receiver on the outside or a sure-handed, play-making tight end has been a problem. It certainly appears the Cowboys made a mistake by not making more significant upgrades to the passing game in the offseason. I don't see that improving until next offseason. Well, unless they make a trade for another offensive weapon, which I'm not expecting.

Answers for Dallas Cowboys' offensive woes must come from within - Todd Archer, ESPN
With the Cowboys mired under a landslide of offensive issues, a lot of people are offering suggestions as to what they can do. Todd Archer is one of the best beat writers covering them, and he has three of his own, including this one.


When the Cowboys struggled in the season opener against the Carolina Panthers, they turned to a no-huddle offense and at least got into more of a rhythm. They missed a field goal attempt and scored their lone touchdown when they played at a faster pace, spreading the Panthers out.

After throwing for 46 yards in the first half, Prescott threw for 124 in the second half. The Cowboys were able to dictate the tempo of the game.

Doing that for an entire game might be difficult from a conditioning standpoint and could affect the defense if the offense can’t convert, but the Cowboys have scored 10 first-quarter points so far this season. What’s the harm?

A Passing Game Solution; LVE Time; More - Rob Phillips,
Phillips saw something that he thinks might work for Dallas. It is worth noting that the Detroit Lions are best in the NFL in passing yards allowed, and dead last in stopping the run.

I Think…

this won’t go over well with Angry Cowboys Fan right now – I can understand you’re very upset – but I’m encouraged by what Dallas did in the running game. It’s at least a start in getting this offense on track.

Granted, this is a different and perhaps less dynamic Seattle front than past years. But here’s the thing: The Cowboys’ core offensive principles actually did work against the Seahawks. They want to pound the ball with Zeke and create favorable down-and-distance for Prescott. No matter how many faces change on offense, that’s their best bet for sustaining drives and scoring points.

What the Cowboys, QB Dak Prescott need to do more of to fix broken passing game - John Owning, SportsDay
While the play-calling has been getting lots of scrutiny, Dak Prescott has also been getting tons of criticism.

The Dallas Cowboys have one of the worst offenses in football through three weeks, and Dak Prescott is going to receive the lion's share of the blame, even though other factors have certainly contributed the offense's ineptitude.

Even with the other factors at play, Prescott simply hasn't been good enough. Through three games, Prescott has yet to throw for more than 170 yards or average more than 6.4 yards per attempt.

In fact, his actual yards per attempt average (5.66) is the 27th-best in the NFL, behind dubious names such as Mitch Trubisky, Blake Bortles, Josh Allen, Case Keenum and Joe Flacco. Prescott has thrown for just two touchdowns and the offense has averaged an abysmal 13.7 points per game, second-worst in the NFL.

Wanna Know What The Yips Looks Like, Watch Dak - Cory Maegors, 105.3 The Fan
This is a different take on Dak Prescott's issues - and the idea they are basically in his head makes some sense.

Now here we are, and I believe it’s less about accuracy at this point and more about the yips. The yips are described by the Mayo Clinic as an involuntary muscle spasm, but so I’m going to say its more about sports performance anxiety than anything else.

I’m sure there is a contingent of the fanbase that will forever say “he sucks” and that’s a very easy way to word it. But there was a time when this young quarterback threw with confidence and without fear. He’s not doing that now.

Sure you can find plays where Dak doesn’t have the protection needed and the team makes mistakes around him that offset any good he does, but consistently you are seeing Dak Prescott break down before a drive even gets started. He’s escaping a clean pocket, not pulling the trigger in fear of a turnover and quite simply airmailing easy passes.

Maybe Dak Prescott just is what he is: A 4th-round quarterback - Zeke Barrera, Cowboys Wire
It is a scary thought since the team has gone all in on Dak, but maybe they just expected too much from him going forward.

When Prescott took over in 2016, the scenario around his was perfect. He came in with the game’s leading rusher and a future Hall of Fame tight end with something left in the tank. His offensive line was pretty much perfect, with three All-Pros playing at a high level and a soon-to-be-rich left guard with a cagey veteran at the fifth spot. They were dominant in run blocking and pass protection. At receiver, he had a still-oustanding Dez Bryant and an unguardable slot man in Cole Beasley.

There was no better situation to be thrust into. None of those units are close to what they were before, save for the running back.

Certainly, some teams around the league do more with less. The NFL moves quickly, and Dallas now finds itself in a different place than they perhaps expected after Prescott’s and Elliott’s first season. Flash forward two years, and the first quarter of 2018’s games are spent, what can they do to bring life back into this offense?

Missing Travis Frederick caused domino affect - Stefan Stevenson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
All-Pro guard Zack Martin offers his support for his quarterback, and puts poor execution at the top of his list for what needs to be fixed.

Quarterback Dak Prescott, Martin said, is really good about keeping a positive attitude despite the offensive issues. Most importantly, he said, you can’t dwell on the previous week in the NFL.

“By no means does he let it affect him, but as an offense it is frustrating,” he said. “We need to go back to executing simple plays and looks and that’s going to help us turn the corner. The worst thing you can do in this league is dwell on the past. After that 24 hours you really have to move on. If you keep going back it’s going to snowball into worse things. We have to keep working on putting it behind us and get ready for Detroit.”

Prescott has been sacked 11 times, tied for fifth-most in the league. Martin didn’t try to paint a prettier picture.

“Obviously, through the first three weeks we haven’t done a great job. It’s been one of our biggest problems I think,” he said. “We just have to play better. We know it starts with us up front. It’s hard to get anything going if we’re not doing our jobs. We watch the tape together. We have to go out and do our job better.”

Randy Gregory penalty set up field goal - Stefan Stevenson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Some thought there should have been a strong reaction from Jason Garrett when Randy Gregory drew a stupid penalty at the end of the first half that helped get the Seahawks closer for what turned out to be a successful field goal. But if you were expecting that, you haven't been paying much attention to Garrett and his approach to things since, well, forever.

“I think there are different ways that coaches handle situations with players throughout the game,” Garrett said. “You want to make sure you address the issue with him and talk about the importance of discipline and not reacting to something that somebody might have said or done to you.”

Garrett didn’t consider benching him for the second half to send a message.

“Once that play happens, it’s behind you. And you have to make sure you address it, you solve it and you move on to the next play. That’s the nature of our game,” he said. “Again, you just want to address the issue and solve it and move and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

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