By Dwain Price, NDG Sports
FRISCO – As they prepare for their home opener Sunday night against the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys know their regular season opener was nothing short of a disaster.
In losing 16-8 on the road to the Carolina Panthers this past Sunday, the Cowboy looked very anemic on offense as they collected just 60 yards and didn’t even reach the 40-yard line in the first half. And for the game, the Cowboys mustered just 232 total yards – they totaled more yards than this in 15 of their 16 games last season.
Meanwhile, quarterback Dak Prescott was a mere shadow of the player who had a spectacular rookie year two seasons ago. Prescott was 19-of-29 for 179 yards, was sacked six times, and also blew the Cowboys’ final chance of at least trying to forge a tie when he fumbled away the pigskin in the waning moments.
“I thought I was off,” Prescott said. “There’s stuff you’ve got to go back, you’ve got to look on film.
“I’ve got to figure out why I was off, was I rushing it, did I feel pressured, what were the things that were causing it, or just was it me missing the pass?”
Prescott miraculously completed no passes over 20 yards, however, his receivers hardly gave him targets he could see, and it ended up being a total mess for the Cowboys. But coach Jason Garrett vows things will be better when the Cowboys host the Giants on Sunday night at 7:20 at AT&T Stadium.
“I know this, (Prescott is) going to come in and work hard,” Garrett said. “And whatever it is we’ll get locked in on it and he’ll focus on improving it and hopefully get better this week.”
The Cowboys looked very rusty and were searching for answers all day against the Panthers. Running behind new center Joe Looney, running back Ezekiel Elliott found very little room to roam as he finished the day with just 69 yards on 15 carries while scoring the Cowboys’ lone touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve got to start faster because that’s not Dallas Cowboys football,” Elliott said. “That’s not how we’ve ever played.
“If we want to succeed, if we want to go out there and win ballgames we can’t come out there and lay an egg in the first half.”
Wide receiver Cole Beasley, who caught seven passes for 73 yards, said the Cowboys haven’t lost any confidence in their offense, although they found themselves in too many third-and-long situations against Carolina.
“If you had watched the tape, there were plays out there to be made,” Beasley said. “Like I said, it was maybe one guy on any given play didn’t do their job and it was breaking everything down and making it look worse than it is.
“We couldn’t get anything going with third-and-12s and third-and-15s. That’s dang near impossible. We still had plenty of opportunities to move the rock. We’ll just clean those things up and get better.”
Fans are complaining, but players are not listening
As is the case after a loss, the Cowboys are getting hammered on social media and on talk radio. But they know that comes with the territory.
“There’s a lot of opinions out there right now about what we should or shouldn’t do, or how bad our group is,” Beasley said. “But at the end of the day they don’t know, so we can’t read it and we can’t care about it.
“Even when you play good games you’re going to hear all of the good stuff and they’re going to fill your head with something completely opposite of what they told you last week. So that’s one of the biggest reasons why you can’t listen to any of it because it’s all full of poop.”
Fans were also all riled up because the Cowboys released kicker Dan Bailey last week and his replacement, Brett Maher, missed a 47-yard field goal against the Panthers. In a nutshell, of all the kickers in the NFL who kicked on opening day, Maher was the only one who didn’t score at least one point.
“I went out there and every time I’m on the field I try and go one-for-one,” Maher said. “I didn’t get that done, so we’ll get back to get it fixed for next week.”
The loss so demoralized the Cowboys that defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence didn’t even want to discuss the sack he registered against Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
“We didn’t win the game,” Lawrence said. “Plays don’t matter if you don’t win.
“Sacks don’t add up if you don’t win. They don’t matter. I don’t play just to get sacks. I play to win.”
While the Cowboys’ defense was solid, their offense looked disjointed. That must change in order for them to have a chance to defeat the Giants.
“We get paid every week to come out here and win football games, and produce and execute and play at a high level,” Elliott said. “That’s what’s expected of us, so we’ve got to do that.”
That sentiment was echoed by Garrett, who is aware that the Cowboys also have to find a way to stretch the field and put some pressure on the opposing defense.
“We have to get better in that area, there’s no question about it,” Garrett said, referring to the long ball. “The one game we have to evaluate is the one we played (Sunday) and it wasn’t good enough.
“So we ‘re going to go back to work, and we’re going to look at it with a critical eye ourselves as coaches and try to do our best to correct any issues that came up with our players and then try to put a good plan together this week.”