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Mailbag: What's the answer to penalty problems?


There cannot be a Cowboys fan anywhere that is not tired of the abundance of penalties every game. What's the answer? Threats of decreased playing time? Monetary penalties? I'm sure the coaching staff harps on it all the time. What are your feelings on this topic? – Rick Dipasquale/Parkersburg, WV

Nick Harris: Penalties have definitely been a huge hindrance to this team's full potential, and it almost cost them a win in Los Angeles. Everything comes down to discipline at the end of the day. I'm OK with a couple of pass interference, holding, illegal hands to the face penalties during the game; that at least proves that you're playing physical football. But when the defense lines up offsides multiple times every game, 12 men are on the field multiple times in a game and illegal formations all combine with those physical penalties, things start to really compound into a major issue. I'm not sure what needs to happen to correct it other than doing something different than what's already taken place. There has to be an emphasis coming out of the bye week on not being the second-most penalized team in the NFL for the rest of the season.

Patrik: I promise I'm not being snarky when I say the answer is to … just stop committing them. This isn't some deeper issue that requires a lot of analysis into the coaching or locker room culture, or if the recent solar eclipse is causing a shift in the magnetic field that then lends to errors in cerebral judgment. No, no, no. Sure, you can look at benching a guy, and you might have the depth to do it, but that person you're benching would have to be a/the repeat offender but, again, what if you do NOT have the depth (e.g., LB). This is simply about self-discipline of every individual, and some have been better at it than others. Presnap penalties have particularly become a thorn in the side of Mike McCarthy, who has harped heavily on the team's need to correct them. At the end of the day, all penalties are avoidable (or at least most of them, because officials can and will absolutely make a mistake sooner or later) and, as such, the problem doesn't have to persist any longer than the previous game or the one before that. Stay disciplined and don't extend the other team's offensive drives and the Cowboys will put themselves in many more positions to win than not. It's frustrating because it doesn't have to be a thing.

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