FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys' offense knows they are capable of much more than they've shown in three losses away from AT&T Stadium. The 40-7 home blowout against Jacksonville is proof.
With their fourth road trip of the season looming this Sunday at Washington, the group discussed solutions in a productive meeting Thursday.
"We just addressed the elephant in the room as an offense," quarterback Dak Prescott said. "I think it was great, it was a great meeting. We had the whole offense in there just talking among coaches and players about maybe things we need to do to get better, just communicating."
Communication has been the primary issue, or elephant, as Prescott said. In losses to Carolina, Seattle and Houston, the offense didn't carry out assignments consistently at each level, from the quarterback to the protection to the skill players. The Cowboys posted a season-high 40 points against Jacksonville, but only 37 combined in those three defeats.
Crowd noise is always a factor, but the Cowboys have shown the ability to handle it before. In 2016, a special rookie year for Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, the club went 6-2 on the road, including a regular-season finale loss at Philadelphia when most starters were held out for the playoffs.
"If we're all on the same page and we've got all our assignments down, then I think we'll be in a good spot," Elliott said.
Many faces on offense have changed. There are two new starters on the offensive line and new rotations at receiver and tight end. But head coach Jason Garrett doesn't believe youth is an excuse.
"Possibly, but that's irrelevant," he said. "What's relevant is we have to do a better job of it. At times on the road, when we were all together and communicated well and everybody was on the same page, we executed pretty well. But there are too many examples in each of those games where we didn't do that. There's a lot of different factors for that, a lot of different reasons for that. But the fact is, we've got to get it right."
A primary focus of the meeting, Prescott said, is better poise on third down.
The Cowboys rank 30th in third-down efficiency, converting only 31.2 percent of the time. By comparison, the undefeated L.A. Rams lead the league with a 46.4 conversion rate.
There's no question the Dallas offense has found a better rhythm at home. They were 15-of-39 (38.5 percent) in wins over the Giants, Lions and Jaguars. Cole Beasley was Prescott's top target last Sunday, catching all 7 third down conversions.
On the road? Only 9-of-38 (23.7 percent) so far.
"That's when the crowd is loudest," Prescott said. "And that's when the communication is most prominent.
"I know we'll take a lot from that conversation and our communication will be better. We had a great day of practice today and yesterday. Just got to carry it over to Sunday."