Thu, 20 Jun 2019

Cowboys frustrated by offensive struggles

Sports Xchange
25 Sep 2018, 11:03 GMT+10

Dallas coach Jason Garrett doesn't watch football the way fans or the media watch it.

That's normal for a head coach in the NFL.

But it means that after a frustrating loss like the Cowboys suffered on Sunday in Seattle, Garrett spends a lot of time rebuffing reporters' questions on Monday.

Garrett was clearly bothered by a question doubting the play-calling of Dallas offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

"We haven't played well enough on offense, so everybody has to look at it," Garrett said with an edge in his voice. "I think it would be false for me to say this is about play calling. This is about everything we're doing offensively. We have to do better."

After three weeks, the Cowboys (1-2) are 30th in the NFL in total offense and 31st in points scored.

So the beat reporters covering the Cowboys attacked all areas of the offensive scheme with pointed questions.

Garrett, for the most part, responded to the questions with measured analysis.

"There are a lot of different things we have to get better at, I guess is the simplest way of answering that question," Garrett said when asked about the issues the offense is facing. "If you evaluate the game yesterday, there were some good things in the game. We ran the ball well in the game, we had explosive runs in the game. We ran for a good average throughout the game. I thought those were positives for us. We made some explosive plays offensively. But when you pull back and look at the rest of it, it just wasn't good enough."

Along with defending Linehan and the passing game, Garrett had positive things to say about running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott rushed for a season-high 127 yards. But he also cost the team four points by stepping out of bounds before catching a 31-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, then the Cowboys settled for a field goal.

And then Elliott fumbled in the fourth quarter at the end of a run to the Seahawks' 19.

Given that the Cowboys lost by 11, those two Elliott mistakes hurt badly.

But Garrett didn't express frustration with Elliott's sloppy play.

"Zeke did a lot of good things in the game," Garrett said. "Obviously very, very productive running the football. There were some plays in the game that were a little bit uncharacteristic of him. ... He's got such a great feel for playing the game. For whatever reason, he lost where he was on the field and stepped out of bounds."

It's hard to tell if Garrett had a more direct message for Elliott behind closed doors at the team's headquarters. But if the Cowboys' star running back doesn't play more consistent football, then the Dallas coach will continue to answer critical questions from the media each week.

--LB Sean Lee left the game with a hamstring injury for the second straight game. Unlike in the Cowboys win over the Giants last week, the injury appears to be something that could sideline Lee for next week's home game versus the Lions. Leighton Vander Esch took over for the injured Lee and posted 9 solo and 11 total tackles, including a TFL.

--RB Ezekiel Elliott gave an uneven performance against the Seahawks. He stepped out of bounds, unforced, negating a 31-yard touchdown and costing the Cowboys points in the second quarter and fumbled in the fourth quarter. But he also rushed for a season-high 127 yards.

--DE DeMarcus Lawrence had half a sack in the Cowboys loss to Seattle. That makes three straight games that the Dallas defensive end has had at least half a sack and brings his season total to 2.5 out of 12 total tackles.

--QB Dak Prescott is under the microscope as the Cowboys' offense has struggled. He completed 19 of 34 passes with a touchdown and two interceptions against the Seahawks. Dallas coach Jason Garrett pointed out that Prescott's interceptions came on tipped balls. But the Cowboys beat writers still asked multiple questions on the team's inability to stretch the field with the passing game.

--S Xavier Woods returned to action after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury he suffered in the second preseason game against Cincinnati in mid-August. Woods finished with two total tackles while splitting time with Kavon Frazier.

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