After four games, Cowboys saddled with offensive woes

IRVING -- The numbers don't lie. They are ugly.

A quarter of the way into the season, the Dallas Cowboys' offense has limped, sputtered, spit and gagged. It's been an interception here, a fumble there; a drop here, a miscommunication there; a false start here, a sack there.

The Cowboys rank near the bottom of several offensive categories:

They are 16th in total offense, including 30th in rushing.

The Cowboys are 31st in points per game, with a 16.3 average. Only a touchdown and 2-point conversion with 34 seconds left Monday night prevented them from being worse than Jacksonville.

They are 31st in turnover margin at minus-7. Only two teams have more than more than the Cowboys' 11 giveaways.

Tony Romo is 22nd in passer rating behind the likes of Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jake Locker.

Romo had only 10 interceptions and three lost fumbles in 2011. He has a league-high eight interceptions as well as two lost fumbles in four games in 2012.

Only three teams have more than the Cowboys' 33 penalties.

Left tackle Tyron Smith has a league-leading five false starts. Right tackle Doug Free is tied for second with four.

Tight end Jason Witten leads the league with five drops. Receiver Dez Bryant is tied for second with four.

Running back DeMarco Murray is tied for first for the most times being "stuffed" with 13. Murray had only 14 runs that resulted in lost yardage last season, when he carried the ball 164 times.

"We have to go back and analyze why we've been successful at different times this year, and why we haven't been successful and continue to make that emphasis to our football team and continue to instill that in them and get them to the point where you can take it from the practice field to the game field on a consistent basis," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "If you look at each of our games, it's fairly obvious when you do things that contribute to winning, you're going to win games, and when you do things that contribute to losing, it's hard to win in this league.

"...The winning reasons are fairly apparent as you look around the league. Turnovers have a lot to do with that, and some self-inflicted wounds have a lot to do with that. When we played well this year, we've done things necessary to win the games, and when we haven't, the results speak for themselves. So we've got to make sure we continue to emphasize that to our team and take it from the practice fields, meeting rooms, to the field on Sunday afternoon."

The Cowboys are encouraged, because seven starters return from an efficient offense last season. They are encouraged because they have been close on some things this season. They are encouraged because Romo played well last season after the fourth-game meltdown against the Lions, throwing only five interceptions in the final 12 games. They are encouraged because the pre-snap penalties disappeared this week. They are encouraged because they can clean up the turnovers.

"I'm tempered by the fact that it's early in the season," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday outside his office at the team's Valley Ranch headquarters. "I'm tempered by the fact the world champions last year won nine in the regular season after losing their first two and at one point were behind by two games [in the standings]. I'm tempered by the fact that we are 2-2, along with the rest of the league. I like [assistant coach] Bill Callahan and what he is doing with the offensive line.

"But I'm not trying to say I'm happy at all. I'm disappointed."

Charean Williams


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