FRISCO, Texas --If you feel like something's been off about the Cowboys rushing attack this season then, well, you aren't the only one to notice. Travis Frederick said Wednesday that the Cowboys are paying attention to what's been wrong with their ground game.
"Obviously our yardage was a little bit better last year at this point I would imagine," Frederick said. "But we still have things we need to work on."
He's certainly right about the discrepancy between last year and this year. Through four games last season the Cowboys has accumulated 596 rushing yards. Sitting at 2-2 right now, they have just 457 yards, which is a pretty drastic difference.
"We're just not executing," said Ezekiel Elliott who accounts for most of those yards both seasons.
The Cowboys were out-rushed in both of their losses this year. There's nothing complicated about what the Cowboys do on offense. It's not necessarily a systematic change that needs to be made. Last season they simply couldn't be stopped.
"We're kind of shooting ourselves in the foot," Elliott said. "We've got to be better on first and second down. It comes with concentration and not getting penalties in those first two downs."
Dominating on the ground creates momentum and game control, but it requires rhythm and chemistry. Elliott is confident they have time to find what it takes to supply that momentum for the rest of the team.
I think we've been making strides," Elliott said. "We still got a long way to go. We haven't played up to our capabilities. It's going to be a work in progress. We have to keep working. We have to keep grinding."
Frederick, on the other hand, is willing to admit that it's been the mistakes that Elliott spoke up that have been the real issue.
"I think a lot of it has been self-induced," Frederick admitted. "I don't necessarily think it's about the rhythm. One thing here, one thing there."
Frederick claims that the margin of error is extremely small for each member of the offensive line. To do what the Cowboys did last year required almost flawless play.
"Let's say you have seven guys blocking on one play," Frederick explained. "When one block fails, often times that causes a failure of the play as a whole group. You go across the board and everybody has one wrong. That's seven bad running plays. If you only have seven bad plays between an entire offensive line and tight end you think 'oh that's not so bad' but that's the deal; the whole group fails if you have one bad play."
The Cowboys offensive line lost veteran tackle Doug Free in the offseason. They asked La'el Collins to change positions. Chaz Green has dealt with injuries and Jonathan Cooper has seen playing time. These types of issues can lead to small mistakes. But as Frederick explains, there are no small mistakes.
Still, Elliott knows he can explode for big gains when the offensive line comes through. He needs to bring maximum effort and the mistakes have to be limited. He believes there's plenty of time to improve.
"You'd rather be hitting your stride mid-to-late season than peaking early," Elliott said. "As long as you hit your peak, it really doesn't matter how long it takes you."