Dallas Cowboys assistant Rich Bisaccia left no doubt about the mood he was in after Friday’s game.
He frowned. He never made eye contact. He never slowed down on his way to the bus.
His answer to a question about his special teams was short and not so sweet:
“We had a field goal blocked, and we had a turnover in the red zone, fumbled a punt,” Bisaccia said. “Obviously, we didn’t play very well.
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“I did a poor job, obviously. We did a poor job. We didn’t cover very good. Turned the ball over and had a field goal blocked. So we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Cowboys allowed Joe DeCamillis to leave for Chicago after last season, though they could have blocked the move. Dan Bailey tied for first in field-goal percentage and Dwayne Harris helped the Cowboys rank fourth in punt return average last season, but they were last in average drive start (20.2-yard line), 29th in kickoff return average, 24th in gross punting average and 20th in net punting average.
They hired Bisaccia, now in his 12th year in the league, in hopes of making them special.
“Fundamentally, I’m so sold on what we’re doing on special teams,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “We’ve got the players that as long as they will get the experience, and they’re getting it, we’ll be [better].”
Bailey, who has had only one blocked kick in his two seasons, had a 26-yard attempt blocked in the second quarter Friday. The Raiders overloaded the right side of the Cowboys’ line, with Tracy Porter going outside, around tight end Dante Rosario, and Tyvon Branch and Kevin Burnett going between guard David Arkin and Rosario.
Rosario didn’t block any of the three, and Branch went through cleanly.
“I think we just had a lot of pressure from the right side,” Bailey said. “The operation was good as far as our speed, and I thought I hit the ball good, got the ball up. …But it seemed like we had quite a big push on the right side, I don’t know, maybe between the guard and the tight end, somewhere over there.”
In the third quarter, safety Eric Frampton was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul after hitting Raiders returner Phillip Adams, who had signaled for a fair catch. Frampton, a seven-year veteran, led the Cowboys with 21 special teams tackles last season.
“I did not see the fair catch,” Frampton said. “It was unfortunate, because he was hurt, and I don’t intend to hurt anybody, especially in a preseason game, and I just didn’t see the fair catch. It must have been early, and I was focused on the corner who was in front of me, and when I got down there, I still didn’t see it, and I just kind of took my shot. I regret it because it cost the team.”
The Cowboys allowed a 51-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter, after taking a 17-16 lead, with only Jeff Heath saving a touchdown return. The Raiders didn’t score on that series, but they did when B.W. Webb muffed the ensuing punt. Eric Harper recovered at the Dallas 9, and Oakland used the field position to kick the game-winning field goal.
Though the Cowboys’ special teams cost them in their second preseason game, they insist better days are ahead.
“That’s not even a question,” said long snapper L.P. Ladouceur in praising Bisaccia. “Everywhere he’s been, he’s done really well. I’m not worried about that. He’s going to do well here. We’re going to do well here. Sometimes as players we have to step up. That’s what we’re supposed to do.”