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Mailbag: How To Fix The Slow Starts?

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It seems we’re constantly playing catch up and it’s too little, too late in our four losses. Is it just me or do we just look flat at the beginning of these games? Is this a coaching issue in your opinion? - MIKE SMITH / VIRGINIA BEACH, VA

Bryan: This squad runs a fine line very early in these games. One mistake can derail any early momentum they might have. Missed blocks or tackles. Dropped passes. Turnovers. Something always seems to happen at the start of these games. Coaching is the easiest area to blame, but how about the squad’s inability to start the game cleanly without those plays that set them back? Jason Garrett calls it a lack of execution, and for once agree with him -- especially early in games.

Rob: I don’t have a great answer for you, particularly on offense, because they’ve been able to move the ball early in a lot of these games. It’s been a play here, a play there, that has led to drives stalling. I believe coaching is always a factor in a team’s performance, win or lose. But so is the execution part. There have been plays to be made early in games that weren’t finished.

Can you put your finger on what the defense needs to improve on to go far in the playoffs?Aside from the Eagles game, it seems that the defense has regressed a little from last year. Do you think it has to do with players not executing, coaching/defensive play calling, or is the talent on defense not as good as was expected? - FRED ROBERTS / SALEM, OR

Bryan: I’ll put the blame on myself. What I saw in training camp led me to believe that this defense had a chance to be outstanding. Tackling/sacks/turnovers you name it. As a unit they’ve only been able to create pressure but have been lacking badly in the areas of tackling/turnovers. I was expecting that to be taken care of, but that hasn’t been the case at all. As a whole they’ve played below my expectations.

Rob: They haven’t been as consistent as they, or the fans, expected after an impressive 2018 season. The expectations are really high, internally and externally. You look at the stats and they’re top-seven in yards allowed and points allowed. They’re top three in third-down defense. By most measures, they’re a productive group. But takeaways still have been lacking overall and when they don’t stop the run consistently, like last Sunday, the results typically aren’t good.

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