The Cowboys had a healthy 380 yards of offense but scored only seven points in a loss to the Redskins. Penalties and mental miscues were the theme of the night, with two big plays — a fumble returned for a touchdown at the end of the first half and a crucial holding penalty at game's end — ultimately felling the club. The Cowboys have not looked completely healthy offensively since last season and have some adjustments to make.
The PFW Spin
Without those two plays, the Cowboys would have won. Someone is to blame for RB Tashard Choice's fumble at the end of the first half, one that was run back for a defensive touchdown. That usually goes on the coaches, but Wade Phillips seemed to suggest after the game he would have kneeled down. Although QB Tony Romo has some autonomy in the Cowboys' offense, the guess is that offensive coordinator Jason Garrett wanted to run a play, even though the Cowboys were 70-plus yards from a score and very unlikely to get it with just seconds remaining before halftime.
The Alex Barron hold — his third of the game — was something the Rams' coaches saw plenty of from the 2005 first-round pick of St. Louis the past few seasons. The Cowboys needed to coach that out of him, knowing he'd be replacing starting ORT Marc Colombo in this game. Ultimately, they did not and it cost the team a game-winning TD pass to Roy Williams.
But there were other issues. The team looked choppy and rough in its tempo offensively. Romo had to get rid of the ball quickly several times and never appeared to get into rhythm until late in the game. The rushing attack was fairly solid, but the team got away from it late. An offensive line down two starters — Colombo and OLG Kyle Kosier are sidelined with knee injuries — is partly to blame, but the team has yet to find a winning formula.
The good news is that WR Miles Austin, fresh off a lucrative contract extension that he signed last week, looks as good as ever, and they might have found something late in the game with first-round pick Dez Bryant. Early on, they just tried to get the ball into his hands on short hitches, but the big wideout got into space and made a few nice plays once he settled into the game. More time together with Romo will make these two a dangerous duo. Even Williams had a few nice grabs.
The Cowboys have some nice offensive sets and great personnel, but they lack consistency right now. Getting TE Jason Witten into the game plan more will help, as will using the backs more effectively and getting better blocking. There's concern in Dallas, but it's not at panic level yet.