In their first preseason game on Saturday, the Dallas Cowboys committed 17 penalties, costing them 129 yards. It was a carryover from Dallas’ Wildcard loss to the San Francisco 49ers last January and should be concerning for coach Mike McCarthy and the NFL’s most-penalized team in the 2021 regular season.
Mike McCarthy’s reaction to the Cowboys’ 11th penalty early in the third quarter pic.twitter.com/VKBSRA5BNF
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 14, 2022
Here’s how I would handle a game like that if it happened with one of my teams:
Hammer the Point Home
If you have a game where you have a lot of penalties, and it gets you beat, you can really hammer that home as a coach.
You can ask your team, “Were they better than we were? Or did we beat ourselves with too many penalties?”
Address It in Practice
If you have too many holding penalties, then at practice you should have an official that will call those holding penalties. When a player gets whistled for a hold, you take them out.
When I worked with Dan Reeves in Denver, he used to take someone out if they made a mistake. If they jumped offside and got whistled for it, he’d make them run a lap.
You have to make everyone on the team know that the player did wrong. You have to make an example of them in practice to try to eliminate those things.
Sure, you’re trying to embarrass them a little bit, but you’re making a point. You’re saying to the team, “Hey, we can’t have those things, and if we do it in practice, there is going to be some kind of penalty for it.”
You can say it’s treating them like kids, but I think it’s treating them like men, because now you’ve told them straight: “Hey, this is what’s going to hurt our team.”
That’s how you make sure players know they’ve got to be accountable.
The Cowboys have shown their ability to move their top playmakers like Micah Parsons around on defense. This versatility starts with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and his usage of Parsons.
Hall of Fame Head Coach Bill Cowher discusses in the video above that Micah Parsons is a difference maker on the field at several positions. At the same time, he has become a player that the Cowboys can build around as a team on the defensive side of the ball.
The Cowboys defense is full of playmakers at nearly every level.
In the video above, former NFL Head Coach Mike Zimmer discusses how Dan Quinn’s defense allows for him to scheme around playmakers like Micah Parsons with his versatility.
Trevon Diggs also provides a spark on defense with his ability to generate turnovers. He may lose a route or two in a game but his ability to jump a route is another way he brings versatility to this defense. Adding to the defense, the rotational depth on the line with players such as Demarcus Lawrence and Dorance Armstrong Jr. makes this Cowboys defense versatile at every level.
Few NFL quarterbacks are scrutinized more than the Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott.
In the video above, former NFL Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter lays out how Prescott continues to improve for the Cowboys.
“People tend to forget that Dak is coming off of a major injury,” Koetter said. “From all accounts at Cowboys Training Camp, he is leaner and more mobile and appears more comfortable on that ankle than he did a year ago.”
Koetter continues by talking about the chemistry Prescott has with his Head Coach Mike McCarthy and Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore. Prescott has had a consistent offensive system for multiple years now–regardless of some changeover in the wide receiver corps.
Dak Prescott played all but one game last season after a gruesome ankle injury the season before. He threw for a career-high 37 touchdowns. He’s the cream of the crop in this division. If the Cowboys can just take care of business week-in and week-out, they should win the NFC East.
New York Giants
I’m a huge Brian Daboll fan. He had great success with Josh Allen in Buffalo, and that’s one of the reasons Daboll got this head coaching job. The Giants are trying to find a way to get Daniel Jones back up on the horse. He’s struggled with his confidence as he went through different play callers. Jones has some physical tools, but his decision-making has held him back. Jones is 12-25 as a starter, and this is really his last chance with the Giants. Daboll brings some stability and hired a great coaching staff, but they need to fix the quarterback room and that starts with Jones.
The Eagles will tell you that they’re “all in,” with Jalen Hurts, but right now Hurts is a better runner than a passer. This team made the playoffs last year because Head Coach Nick Sirianni realized they were better off being a physical, running team than putting the ball in Hurts’ hands 35 times a game. They have to determine whether or not he’s their franchise quarterback, and they’ve been stockpiling draft picks in case he’s not. This is an important third season for Hurts.
My big question is: How much better is Carson Wentz than Tyler Heinicke? I just don’t know if that’s such a huge upgrade at that position. They’re good enough in other areas. This team has improved in both free agency and the drafts, but there’s a good reason the Indianapolis Colts moved on from Wentz after only one season. Wentz was a huge disappointment in big games last season. The Colts lost their last two games and, shortly after, made the decision to move on from Wentz. I think that speaks volumes about where Wentz is in his career.