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Mailbag: Should We Be Concerned By Slow Starts?

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Against teams that are one dimensional or lack quality skill players, this Cowboys team has been able to overcome its slow starts. Do you see this as a problem down the stretch or in the playoffs?_ – Mike Rickard / Forest Hill, MD _

Kurt:The Cowboys could get away with sluggish starts against teams like the Giants and Colts because they simply had more talent, but the margin for error will soon be considerably less. Right now, Dallas is 11th in average first-half points (12.8), which isn't bad. Ahead of them in the rankings, however, are clubs like Philadelphia (18.8), Buffalo (16.8), Kansas City (14.3), Seattle (13.9) and San Francisco (13.0). And even though Dallas is first in average points scored in the second half (15.0), several of those same offensive teams on that first-half points-for list are also among the league's best defensively in average second-half points allowed, including the Eagles (7.8). Meaning, if the Cowboys can't find a rhythm right out of the gate in these upcoming high-leverage games, digging out of a hole against opponents more their equal will indeed be tougher.

Nick: Slow starts could be the reason you lose a game. And of course, if it happens in the playoffs, we know what that means. Last year, the Cowboys were terrible at the start of the game vs. San Francisco and never fully recovered. It was too little, too late. So your question is valid. When we think of the term "slow starts," it usually stems from a rough first quarter. But ironically, it's the second quarter that is tripping up the Cowboys the most it seems. In fact, it's the only quarter in which the Cowboys are not outscoring their opponent – only tied 90-90. The other three quarters have the Cowboys dominating by more than 30 points. And when you think about it, opposing teams have made some big plays right before the half to get back in the game. Against the Colts, the Cowboys were able to turn the tables. But the real reason the Cowboys need to get off to a great start is the defense. We know this team is better when guys like Parsons and D-Law and Armstrong are attacking the quarterback. When the Cowboys are down and have to stop the run more than pass, it can be a problem. So getting early leads are important for both sides.

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