Dallas Cowboys: 5 Keys To Turning Things Around

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The Dallas Cowboys Needed To Work on These 5 Key Things To Get Better

Cowboys
Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

The bye week is over for the Dallas Cowboys and it is time to get back to playing football. It’s been over nine weeks since the team arrived at Oxnard, CA for training camp and the rest was probably needed. The week off gave the Cowboys time to get a few key players back from injury and practicing again. Those names include Anthony Spencer, Phil Costa and a player that has yet to see the field, Jay Ratliff. All of these players are important cogs for the Cowboys, especially Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff. Sometimes it’s easy to forget about the players you don’t have playing, but it only takes a few plays for a quick reminder of much you missed them. Jay Ratliff is that guy for the Cowboys.

We haven’t thought much about Ratliff through the first four games because he hasn’t been out there playing with his teammates and we tend to focus on who plays, not who doesn’t. I know this though; Ratliff will give the Cowboys defense a boost. Their defensive line rotation has been solid so far and adding Ratliff back into the mix is big for the Cowboys.

The off week also allowed the Cowboys coaches to take a good look at what has been working and what hasn’t through the first quarter of the season. We should expect to see some changes in the Cowboys coming this week and hopefully their season will turnaround. Here are five keys to the Dallas Cowboys righting the ship.

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The Offensive Line Needs To Get Much Better

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Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE

The major problem for the Cowboys this year has been their offensive line. Tony Romo is constantly running for his life and he’s trying to do too much. I expect to see a quarterback who is willing to take a sack rather than force the ball to receivers in the near future. Every time Romo has had one of those games like he had against the Chicago Bears, he tends to play a tad more conservative.

There is some decent news, Phil Costa is starting to practice. It’s not like he’s the answer but he can help. Ryan Cook has played guard before and if the Cowboys continue to get poor guard play from Mackenzy Bernardeau, all options must be explored. Moving Derrick Dockery into the lineup for Bernadeau is an option, as is moving Cook to guard and playing Costa at center when he’s ready. This Cowboys offensive line must get better in order for Dallas to win consistently. We keep hearing they need time to gel but time is running short. Hopefully the Cowboys took a close look at their offensive line and fixed some of their issues.

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Cowboys Need To Get Murray & The Run Game Going

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Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Another key the Cowboys should have worked on during their bye week was the running game. Dallas needs to find ways to get their run game going. They have a very good running back in DeMarco Murray, who runs with power and speed. However, it’s tough to see those qualities if Murray doesn’t have the blocking to find any holes to run through. He’s had way too many runs for negative yards and I’m not just blaming the offensive line, I’m looking right at you Lawrence Vickers.

Where has the thumping fullback been for the Cowboys? I haven’t seen Vickers do much of anything and I think the Cowboys need to use him less and put Murray in a single set backfield more so he can see things developing in front of him. Vickers appears to be getting in the way instead of clearing holes for Murray. I’d also like to see Phillip Tanner get some more looks. He’s a quick, shifty back that can get to the holes fast. His running style could be useful with an offensive line like the Cowboys and giving the defense another look is never a bad thing.

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Get Tony Romo On The Move

romo
Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

The third thing I hope the Cowboys worked on during the bye week combines the first two keys; they need to put Tony Romo on the move more. Watch the way the Houston Texans offense works; they use a lot of play fakes and waggles to get Matt Schaub out of the pocket and give him time to throw. It also gives receivers time to get open. Very few quarterbacks in the NFL throw better than Romo off of play action or outside of the pocket, so let him move. It also helps him stay out of harm’s way because of the Cowboys poor offensive line play. It’s no secret to the rest of the NFL that if you blitz the Cowboys up the middle and get in Romo’s face, he’s more prone to mistakes.

Jason Garrett needs to maximize what Tony Romo does well, and that is throwing when outside the pocket.

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Create More Turnovers

ball
Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

The fourth key for turning the Cowboys season around is something I mentioned a few weeks ago and it still remains an issue for this team, just as it has been an issue the past few seasons; they need to create more turnovers. They signed Brandon Carr, who had four interceptions last year but has yet to get a pick so far this season. They drafted the best ball hawking corner in college when they selected Morris Claiborne and he’s also been shutout. The Cowboys get decent pressure and have the best pass defense in the NFL and it remains a mystery why they don’t intercept more passes.

I don’t know how the Cowboys fix this problem but they need to figure it out, and fast. Maybe they need to work on stripping the ball or do more tip drills in practice to help. Whatever they need to do, I hope they stressed it on the off week because the team that wins the turnover battle in the NFL usually wins the game.

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The Cowboys Need Better Focus

focus
Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

The final key that needed to be stressed during their bye week for the Cowboys was their focus. This team cannot afford to keep having false start penalties, dropped passes or players running the wrong route holding them back. The Cowboys offense has been moved the ball, despite being behind on the down and distance for too many of their drives. The dropped passes have also been a huge issue thus far in the season. It’s not just on offense either, they have too many off sides or dumb penalties to keep drives alive on defense as well. These are not ways to win football games.

Jason Garrett is one of the most detail oriented coaches in the NFL and I just don’t understand the lack of focus from his team. Hopefully he’s made the Cowboys aware that the first four weeks aren’t good enough and they need to be more focused. If not, he needs to hold his players more accountable.

The Cowboys need to improve in these five key areas to be a better team, otherwise, it’ll be the same old, same old Cowboys.


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