FRISCO, Texas – The Denver film is done with. Watched, corrected, filed away.
The Cowboys took the practice field Thursday prepping for the Arizona Cardinals, not lamenting last Sunday’s 42-17 loss to the Broncos – their largest margin of defeat in four years.
“That ballgame is behind us,” head coach Jason Garrett said.
For quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense, it’s about restoring the balanced attack that made them the fifth-highest scoring team in the NFL last season.
Dallas’ 17 points against the Broncos’ aggressive 3-4 scheme tied its second-lowest total since 2016, not counting the preseason finale at Philadelphia in which most starters rested.
The other numbers at Mile High weren’t pretty: 16 first downs, also its second-lowest total since 2016; 3-of-14 third-down conversions; 1-of-3 red-zone conversions.
After the game, Prescott took responsibility for the group’s struggles. He completed 30 of a career-high 50 passes for 238 yards. He threw two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was sacked twice and hit seven times.
“I’ve just got to be better,” he repeated Thursday.
Garrett and Prescott’s teammates emphasize that the entire offense must be better.
It starts with better run/pass balance, an objective Denver deserves credit for disrupting last Sunday. The Broncos jumped out to a 21-7 lead in the second quarter and led 28-10 midway through the third. They controlled the line of scrimmage, holding running back Ezekiel Elliott to career lows in carries (8) and rushing yards (9). And they allowed only one pass play over 20 yards: tight end Jason Witten’s 28-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
As Elliott pointed out Thursday, the Cowboys have seen teams stack defenders at the line over the past two years. Execution was the primary issue for the run game.
“I think there’s a lot of things that go into it,” center Travis Frederick said. “I think it has to do with everybody just making sure that they’re doing their job. When everything’s not working together in the scheme that we’re running, things fall apart.
“It has to do with making sure that everybody’s on, and that includes tight ends, running backs, wide receivers, everybody. But I think it comes down to our offensive line performing better and really focusing on the techniques and the things that we practice day in and day out and just going out and doing them on game day.”
Said left guard Chaz Green: “Our coach talks about, our résumé is our film. We don’t have business cards. We have film. Last week, speaking for myself, I wasn’t proud of our performance. I want to do everything I can to get better and make sure that doesn’t happen this week.”
Next up Monday night is a Cardinals defense with outstanding pass rushers (outside linebackers Chandler Jones, Markus Golden) and coverage players (cornerback Patrick Peterson, safety Tyrann Mathieu).
Arizona held a struggling Colts offense to 76 rushing yards (2.6 average) and 13 points in an overtime win last Sunday.
It’ll be another road challenge, but the Cowboys’ offense is focused on regaining their own identity.
“Get back to what we did all camp long, be a balanced offense,” Prescott said. “We’ve got to execute the plays that Coach gives us.
“It’s important for us to put it behind us, never forget the team that we are, the offense and defense we’re capable of being. Everybody came to work with the right attitude today.”