The Cowboys just finished playing their first game in their new stadium and had an impressive 30-10 victory over the Titans. Last week in their debut at Oakland, things didn’t quite go as well in a 31-10 defeat at the hands of the Raiders. The one or two things that both outings had in common and that is a source of some concern for me is the number of penalties and the special teams play.
This week against the Titans, the Cowboys commintted 13 fouls for 113-yards, including a suspect holding penalty against WR Sam Hurd that negated an opening kick0ff return of 78-yards by Miles Austin. There were at least 6 false start penalties against the offensive line and two Unsportmanslike Conduct fouls on one Tennessee drive that led to their first touchdown. In Oakland, the Cowboys almost equaled the Raiders in number of penalties/yardage. Noted as the worst in the NFL for penalties per game, the Raiders still won the game, as did the Cowboys this week, even though committing more penalties than their opponent.
Although it is only preseason, this is a disturbing trend so far and the only person that can logically be called to task for it is head coach Wade Phillips. Training camp went well in terms of conditioning, offensive and defensive preparation and not being labelled as a “cup cake camp” like last season, but some areas seem to have been overlooked, such as penalties.
Another possible trend, although it is certainly too early to really tell, is the play of special teams again. There has been several muffed punts and penalties on kick returns. While it has been a “return by committee” with several players being looked at as possible kick returners, the amount of dropped balls and fouls is still disturbing. In Oakland, two muffed punts led to two easy Raider TD’s and a penalty against S Gerald Sensabaugh (shown above with Phillips) for a personal foul after a kick return by Tennessee’s Javon Ringer set up an easy field goal for the Titans last night.
All I’m saying is these are the two most problematic areas for the team last season and the season before, basically since Phillips has been the HC! While Romo and the offense has looked very good and the defense has shown good signs of being better, if these two areas do not improve, it may be a long season for us Cowboys fans.