3 & Out: Jump Start On Offense; New Side Of JG?

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FRISCO, Texas – Three quick topics as the Cowboys ready for the first of two trips to the Meadowlands, trying to eliminate this two-game losing skid:

  • Finishing drives
  • Ground control
  • Angry JG

I Know…

the offense is capable of faster starts.

I’m talking strictly about points, not yardage. They piled up 179 total net yards on their first five drives against the Packers. Problem was, all five drives ended near or inside Green Bay territory with:

  • A Dak Prescott interception
  • A punt after a sack knocked them out of field goal range
  • A second Prescott interception
  • A punt after a sack
  • A missed field goal.

This isn’t just a Packers-Saints issue. In four games since their blowout win over the Giants in the opener, the Cowboys have been outscored 17-13 in the first quarter and 39-27 in the first half. The winless Dolphins actually hung around through two quarters, trailing just 10-6 before the offense found its normal gear.

Turnovers have been the main culprit the last two games. Teams like the Saints and Packers – particularly that Rodgers guy – will make you pay.

Sunday’s opponent, the New York Jets, haven’t started or finished fast. They haven’t held a lead since Week 1 when quarterback Sam Darnold (mono) was in the lineup. According to CBS, they’ve now gone 28 straight games without an opening drive touchdown.

The Cowboys need an early lead to try to mitigate Le’Veon Bell’s impact on the game, just as Ezekiel Elliott got only eight carries after the first quarter because of a three-score deficit to Green Bay.

I Think…

the Cowboys don’t believe they have a run defense problem.

In their mind, they’ve got the personnel to get the job done. Sure, a healthy Antwaun Woods would help, and Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan that their starting nose tackle has a good chance to return from an MCL sprain this week.

But the gap issues they had against Aaron Jones (107 yards, 4 touchdowns) last Sunday – gap control inside and outside the pocket – should never happen.

“Anytime you see things happen on defense, it’s because of us,” defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford said. “If we execute right, then nothing good on their offense should happen. It’s on us.”

This is such a critical talking point because it’s the defense’s calling card. Only seven opponents topped 100 rushing yards against them last year. The Cowboys’ record: 1-6, including the divisional-round playoff loss in which the Rams posted 273 yards on a whopping 48 carries.

The record this year: 1-2. They survived 120 yards from Saquon Barkley in Week 1. The Saints got enough balance from Alvin Kamara and others to support backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. And the Packers? Give them credit, for sure, but the defense seemed far more frustrated with themselves.

I Have No Idea…

why Jason Garrett’s sideline, uh, discussion with the officials last Sunday surprised so many people.

If you watched “All or Nothing,” the 2017 season-long documentary produced by Amazon Sports and NFL Films, you know Garrett’s polished press-conference manner is not his full personality.

Garrett, of course, drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for “abusive language,” according to a post-game pool report. Interpret that how you wish. Garrett said Monday that he “didn’t handle that situation well enough.” The players had his back, though: Zeke Elliott got a 26-yard catch on the next play and then ran for a touchdown.

Sure, the head coach lost his cool. But somewhere, Barry Switzer was smiling.

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