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Cowboys must overcome their preseason-like woes to become a playoff caliber team once again

Dallas Cowboys must stop making preseason-like mistakes moving forward.

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

It may be time we face facts. The Dallas Cowboys do not look like the team we enjoyed watching go on a six-game win streak earlier this season. At times, they’re playing poorly in all three phases of the game, making mistakes that are typically cleaned up in preseason. These preseason-like woes could be their doom if they can’t fix things quickly.

It’s truly baffling to see the Cowboys regress like they have. Pretty much since their bye week in Week 7 they’ve had issues at various times in almost every facet of the game. This was once a team considered to be a Super Bowl favorite, and now they are under pressure to just win the NFC East division. What’s changed and how can they fix it?

With a mini-bye week to hopefully fix areas they are struggling in, there is hope the Cowboys can right the ship and once again be considered a serious playoff contender. After all, they still have a 8-4 winning record. In order to do that though they need to understand what needs to be fixed.

OFFENSE

Las Vegas Raiders v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The biggest concern about the Cowboys right now has to be how much the offense is struggling to find their way. Talent-wise they are still on par with any other team in the league, but unfortunately they simply aren’t playing up to their standards right now. From Dak Prescott to the offensive line, and everything in between, something is amiss.

Prescott is little out of sync with his receivers in the passing game, the offensive line is struggling to create running lanes, and even Kellen Moore isn’t really having the type of success he had earlier in the year as a play caller. These are all issues we generally see happen in the preseason, but rarely this late in the year.

Since the offense is the key to the Cowboys success moving forward, they absolutely have to figure out how to correct these issues, and quickly. There really isn’t any reason why any of these issues should be occurring this late in the year, and yet, they are. Hopefully with a little extra time to reevaluate everything they can overcome these preseason-like woes.

DEFENSE

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

While the Cowboys offense is the biggest culprit for their late-season struggles, the defense isn’t without their own preseason-like woes. The most noticeable, and also arguably the most problematic, is the struggle they’re having in the tackling department. There have been too many times lately were a short gain has turned into a big one because of poor tackling.

You’d expect to see these kind of tackling issues early in the year in preseason games, but not this late in the season. How many times have we seen players try to punch the ball out to create a turnover instead of wrapping up to make a tackle recently? Sadly, that’s exactly what happened last week on the Deonte Harris touchdown against the Saints.

Instead of being a minimal gain, several of the Cowboys defenders tried to punch the ball out to try to create a fumble instead of simply wrapping up to make the tackle. It’s something that continuously is happening each week and it’s becoming a problem more and more. If they can clean up this issue, the defense would be much better for it.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Dallas Cowboys v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Cowboys could stand to improve their tackling and execution, but overall, the biggest issue for them on special teams is the inconsistency of Greg Zuerlein on field goal and extra point attempts. His lack of consistency has been a problem pretty much the entire season and has contributed directly to a couple of losses.

John Fassel won’t be looking to make a change at kicker during this mini-bye week, but he can’t afford to ignore the points Zuerlein has left on the field so far this year. He may be one of Fassel’s “guys”, but that’s hardly reason enough to stick with him if he continues to struggle with his consistency.

Like with the previously mentioned preseason-like woes, both offensively and defensively, the kicking game is something the Cowboys shouldn’t be concerned about this late in the year. Special teams should be the least of their worries, and sadly, that’s simply not the case as long as Greg Zuerlein continues to struggle.