It was another meaningful win for the Cowboys in their sweep of the Giants on Turkey Day, but they were reminded they still have a lot of work to do when it comes to penalties.
FRISCO, Texas — Anyone you speak to within the building at the headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys will tell you the team has a ton of potential to do something special in 2022, but that it's also true they have played imperfect football thus far — the throttling of the Minnesota Vikings notwithstanding — one of the biggest areas in need of improvement being penalties.
Simply put, they need to delete them, once and for all.
It's been one of the biggest issues for the team recently, 2021 included, and their 13 drawn flags at home against the New York Giants on Thanksgiving Day led to a 13-7 deficit at halftime that threatened to devolve further into an upset at AT&T Stadium. They'd go on to win to sweep Big Blue, but losing to Big Yellow kept the opponent in the fight when otherwise they wouldn't have been.
"We can't have any pre-snap penalties," said starting right tackle Terence Steele as the team begins preparation to host the Indianapolis Colts. "They bite us in the butt."
It's key to note that the five-game absence of Dak Prescott led to the offensive line being calibrated to the cadence of quarterback Cooper Rush and, with Prescott back under center, there's clearly a recalibration needed as the calendar turns to December.
And, to that point, the Cowboys have already begun working on the fix to avoid the proverbial teeth from sinking deeper into their glutes, and potentially at the worst possible moment (a playoff game).
"[On Monday], we did some cadence work, all just trying to get off on the cadence," said Steele.
"We just need to keep doing that and we'll get it right. … We were out on the field today and doing [individual drills] and coaches were trying to mimic Dak's snap count — just getting reps there with that — and throughout the week we'll do a full line with Dak at QB to give us his cadence; so that we can get used to [it]."
Getting in tune with QB1 will go a long way in deleting the false starts and, as a result, helping the offense to avoid getting behind the chains which then increases the likelihood of successful third down conversions and extended drives to potentially put points on the board.
As a team, the Cowboys have shown on more than one occasion in 2022 that they can avoid the penalty bug but, as is the case with other areas of needed improvement (e.g., run defense), it's all about establishing consistency going forward.
The next several games will tell all about the 2022 version of this team.
"We're in a pretty good position right now," said Steele. "And it's like coach [Mike McCarthy] told us — the best football should be played after Thanksgiving. That was our mentality heading into this season. … Our best football is ahead of us."