Commentary

Lack of offense becoming a concern

Sure it's just the preseason, but it would be nice if Cowboys could find the end zone

Updated: August 13, 2010, 12:36 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's only two games. Two preseason games.

The Dallas Cowboys' offense hasn't score any touchdowns in the preseason.

It's not the end of the world or anything, but still you have to be concerned about what you see.

"I don't like to use the word 'concerned,'" offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said after the Cowboys' 17-9 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night. "But we're going to go back, trust me. We evaluate the tapes and how guys are doing in the scheme of things. You always step back."

The Cowboys have had 28 offensive possessions so far. They've reached the red zone four times, twice with the first-team offense, but failed to get into the end zone. Six made field goals, two interceptions, one fumble and 15 punts are some of the notable ways drives have ended.

Sure, it's only two preseason games.

[+] EnlargeRoy Williams
AP Photo/Sharon EllmanRoy Williams had two balls thrown his way, but didn't have any catches against the Raiders. The Cowboys managed only 263 total yards.

But for an offense that has Tony Romo, Roy Williams, Miles Austin, Felix Jones, Jason Witten and an offensive line featuring two Pro Bowlers up the middle, more is expected.

Right?

"Not concerned yet," wide receiver Patrick Crayton said. "I'm a little frustrated because all we're getting is field goals. We need some kind of points. We need more. [David] Buehler kicked six field goals in two games. I think that's a little more work than we expected him to get, I guess."

The Cowboys were hampered a little bit on Thursday because they had only one healthy tight end, Witten, who had a full knowledge of the plays.

Guard Pat McQuistian moved to the tight end position in a cameo performance. DajLeon Farr, who signed Tuesday, caught an 18-yard reception. But he only knew so much. It limited Garrett in what he was able to do in the two- and three-tight end sets.

Neither Garrett nor coach Wade Phillips wanted to use any excuses about why the offense struggled.

The first-team running game of Marion Barber and Jones produced just 12 rushing yards.

Garrett and Phillips said the Raiders didn't pressure the quarterbacks as much as the Bengals did in the first preseason game.

Somehow, the Raiders sacked Romo three times and had a total of six.

"Well, I didn't like getting sacked five times in the first half, I can tell you that," Phillips said. "That's not good enough. We got things we need to work on and we didn't execute well enough."

The execution was lacking in many ways.

  • Wide receiver Manuel Johnson dropped a pass on a slant from quarterback Matt Nichols, leading to safety Jerome Boyd picking the pass off and returning it 48 yards for the game-clinching touchdown with 33 seconds to play in the game.
  • As the Cowboys were driving with 1:39 to play, tackle Sam Young was called for a false start.
  • On a third-and-11 from the Oakland 12, Stephen McGee couldn't find anybody open in the end zone and had to settle for a short pass to Lonyae Miller, forcing the Cowboys to kick a field goal with 2:24 left in the fourth.
  • In the third quarter, McGee completed a pass to Sam Hurd on a third-and-long, but the receiver fell down after the catch. If Hurd stayed up, he could have gotten the first down. Instead, it was a punt.
  • Kevin Ogletree dropped a pass from Jon Kitna on a third down in the third quarter. Later in the quarter, Robert Brewster was called for a false start as McGee got his first snaps of the game.
  • What summed up things for the offense came at the end of the first half. On fourth-and-inches from the 13 and after a timeout, the best the Cowboys could do was Kitna rolling to his right to find fullback Deon Anderson with a pass in the flat. Anderson was stopped for no gain.
  • Romo was sacked three times on the first possession of the game, and the Raiders' first-team corners -- Chris Johnson and Nnamdi Asomugha -- slowed down Williams and Austin.
  • It's just the second game of the preseason, and things will get better. The Cowboys are not showing their full offensive package and don't have all their weapons, including injured first-round pick Dez Bryant, who might not show up until the season opener.

    However, scoring some points would be nice.

    Right?

    "We're running the same plays on first and second down at the 40-yard line as we are at the 10 or 20," Romo said. "But that's to our benefit as we go into the season. Congratulations if you score a touchdown now. Then you guys write about it for a week and then that play doesn't work in Washington because we used it. There's that sense. There's also the sense that says we just need to get into the end zone, find a way. And we will."

    Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

    Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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