Dallas Cowboys: The Problems on Offense

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 23: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys passes the ball to Running Back Ezekiel Elliott #21 against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half at CenturyLink Field on September 23, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 23: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys passes the ball to Running Back Ezekiel Elliott #21 against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half at CenturyLink Field on September 23, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Following another anemic offensive outing there is a lot of finger pointing surrounding the Dallas Cowboys. We may run out of fingers.

After the Dallas Cowboys lose in ugly fashion to the Seattle Seahawks, there are plenty of fingers being pointed. Just about everyone on offense has had a finger pointed at them. Scott Linehan and Jason Garrett seem to have the most, but Dak Prescott is not far behind. Of course the wide receivers, tight ends, and offensive line have had their fair share as well. Even Ezekiel Elliott has not survived the finger pointing. Only Cole Beasley seems to be somewhat immune.

The two biggest culprits in many eyes is Scott Linehan and Jason Garrett. As you may know, I have not been a fan of either for a while now, but I don’t think it is a stretch to say there are legitimate issues. The playcalling has been very flat, outside of about a quarter in the Giants game. The team has not looked prepared and this all falls squarely on both Linehan and Garrett.

Following the press conferences today, Jerry and Stephen Jones maintain support for Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan. Even if they didn’t, they aren’t going to say that in the media. But, after the Jason Garrett conference, it seems at least another week or so will maintain the status quo. This team will have to lose a lot more games for any changes during the season. So buckle up.

Linehan has been an offensive coordinator that calls the game very conservatively. He went outside the box against the Giants, but fell back into habits, and it showed. The Cowboys are not built like the traditional offenses Linehan has always been accustomed to. Dak and the offense are built to run the ball, use the RPO, and get Dak on the move. Teams have decided to stack the box with eight or nine men and force the Cowboys to beat them from the pocket on the outside. This is not at all the skillset of Dak Prescott, and we are seeing the result.

Jason Garrett is the head coach. His job is to manage the team, set the strategy, and get the players and coaches ready. The problem is, when everything isn’t perfect, he seems to be afraid to make an adjustment (like the Falcons game last year). He should have the ability to change things, but for whatever reason he doesn’t. It was telling when he said in his press conference when he used the term, “for whatever reason,” the offense and Dak aren’t playing well. Sure, some of that is the way he is with the media, but it seemed hollow for media and fans looking for answers.

Moving beyond those two, Dak Prescott has been in the crosshairs by quite a few people. The defenders are pointing to his play two seasons ago, and before Zeke went out. The detractors are pointing to the inaccuracy, reads, judgement, and holding on to the ball too long. Those defending Dak are quick to point to the offensive line and the detractors point to his inability to see the field and hold on to the ball.

So who is right? Well, both are. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Dak Prescott has the third most time to pass the ball this season. Currently he has right at three seconds to throw the ball. Only Josh Allen and Deshawn Watson have more time to throw. So maybe Dak does hold onto the ball too long (we will get back to this). But to be fair the offensive line isn’t doing a great job and moving the pocket for Dak and allowing him to step up.

Dak certainly has accuracy issues, if we are being honest. He has shown a tendency to under or overthrow receivers, some wide open. He also isn’t seeing the entire field, and is inconsistent in pre-snap reads. Some of that is on Dak, but a lot of it is on the coaches with the scheme and playcalling. Dak is a quarterback who needs to be moving, he is not a traditional pocket passer, and the playcalling is forcing Dak to play to his weaknesses, not his strengths.

This brings us to the wide receivers and tight ends. Other than Cole Beasley, none of them are getting open consistently. Again, some of that is the playcalling. Some of that is a lack of talent at both positions. We rarely see the Dallas Cowboys use pick plays, take shots downfield to get defenders out of the box, and their routes are not crisp. Again, this is partially on the coaching staff. But to say this wide receiver and tight end corps are underwhelming is being nice.

Going back to Dak holding onto the ball too long, if the receivers are not getting open, Dak is not the type of quarterback to take risks and lead receivers and let them go get the ball. His tendency is to wait for a receiver to fully uncover before throwing to them. His talent for being safe with the ball is also one of his biggest flaws. It is both good and bad. The interceptions were not really on him this game.

Fixing the problems is bigger than adjusting the playcalling. It would help a ton, but there are other issues that have to be worked on. Everyone should shoulder the blame for the way this offense has played. It starts with Linehan and Garrett, but there are some issues with the players themselves.

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If the Cowboys can move toward using more RPO, get Dak on the move, and “feed Zeke”, the offense should look better. Maybe not great, but better. Better is all they need to allow a really good defense to take over games. Until that happens, expect more of the same.

We may not see a change in offensive coordinator or head coach during the season. However, if this continues there will be, at the very least, a change at the end of the season. If the offense continues to look this bad, there very well could be a change during the season. They did it to Wade Phillips.

We shouldn’t be ready to throw in the towel on Dak Prescott. He has work to do, but we need to see with a fresh offensive approach if he can get back to 2016 Dak. They have another season before they have to make a decision. It may not be what many fans want, but it is the right move. If you are going to invest, you have to make a fully informed decision. I’m not sure with the playcalling as it is, they can make a fully informed decision.

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So from this point forward the Dallas Cowboys will go one of two ways. They make the necessary adjustments in playcalling, take some more chances, and work on the offensive line. The other option is we see more of the same and changes will come. Hold on Dallas Cowboys’ fans, there are thirteen more weeks, and we have a lot of football left.

  • Published on 09/25/2018 at 22:01 PM
  • Last updated at 09/25/2018 at 12:40 PM