FRISCO, Texas – Watching the Cowboys' offense on Wednesday brought back a flood of memories – and not necessarily good ones.
The second week of OTAs saw the Cowboys get to work on their red zone offense, honing their play calls inside those crucial 20 yards of the field. Talking to offensive coordinator Kellen Moore about it after practice, it was hard not to note that red zone struggles were a big part of the reason he was promoted to this job in the first place.
"It gives you an opportunity to put some stuff out there that maybe you haven't done before – see what you like, see what you don't like and tweak things," Moore said.
Red zone woes were a constant theme of the 2018 season, and for chunks of the 2017 season before that. The Cowboys' 59.6 conversion percentage two years ago was good enough for No. 7 in the NFL..
In 2018, though, that percentage dipped to 51.7 – plummeting them down to 26th in the league. It's a big part of the reason why they scored a mere 21 points per game, as the scored touchdowns on just seven of 18 red zone trips in the final five weeks of the regular season.
Asked about it after practice, Dak Prescott wasn't keen to dwell on past experiences, although he did acknowledge red zone offense is a target area for this team.
"It's definitely a bigger focus," he said. "But we've changed some things up, for one, so we're not going to sit here and beat our heads against the wall worried about what we did last year."
Moore's promotion is an obvious change. The Cowboys also have Jason Witten back to help them in the tight spaces of the red zone, not to mention Randall Cobb. But it will be interesting to see how his existing options can help improve their return near the end zone.
For instance, the Cowboys' red zone performance ticked up in the playoffs, as they scored touchdowns on five of six combined trips against the Seahawks and Rams. Prescott was a big part of that, with three red zone carries for 26 yards and a touchdown against Seattle and another one-yard touchdown run against L.A.
"We've got to get better, we've go to execute, we've got to run the football," Moore said. "Take advantage of 21 and 4 and we'll have some opportunities outside, as well."
It would be foolish to predict how well that pans out in late May. But if OTAs lay the foundation for the season, the Cowboys started working on a big part of the equation this week.