What the Dallas Cowboys have resolved in analyzing their woes on the road in 2018 is that there has simply been a failure to communicate.
Forget the dropped passes, sacks, interceptions and fumbles that have plagued the Cowboys (3-3) in three road losses heading into Sunday’s game at the Washington Redskins, it’s an overall failure to communicate that has been to the biggest problem.
Of course, the Cowboys know nothing about Paul Newman originally using that since-parroted line in the classic movie Cool Hand Luke which debuted in 1967.
But they understand the sentiment and thus the need for a team meeting on Thursday designed specifically to fix their communication breakdowns.
“We addressed that element in the room as an offense,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “It was great. It was a great meeting. The whole offense was in there, talking among coaches and players about things we need to do better on the road and communicating. I think we will take a lot from that conversation.”
Communication has been the buzz word all week from the Cowboys as they have tried to explain and solve their road woes.
But they held the meeting on Thursday because that’s when they focus on the third-down offense, the part of the game that is affected most by crowd noise in hostile environments.
It has led to protection breakdowns up front, missed signals by the receivers.
The Cowboys blame crowd noise for protection breakdowns in a 24-13 loss at the Seattle Seahawks as well as the 19-16 overtime loss at the Houston Texans. In the latter, receiver Allen Hurns admits missing two checks from Prescott.
No has been impacted more than Prescott. All four of his interceptions this season have come on the road, two against the Seahawks and two against the Texans. He has been sacked 13 times in three road games to just six at home. And his quarterback rating is 40 points lower on the road than at home.
All can be rooted in a new center making calls with Joe Looney replacing an injured Travis Frederick and a revamped receiver corps still trying to develop chemistry with Prescott.
It’s the only explanation for a Cowboys team that was 12-4 on the road under Prescott in 2016-17 combined.
“It’s the newness of the guys playing, the first time playing together especially early,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “It still happens. Unfortunately, it happens more on the road than home because you are dealing with the silent cadences. Still no excuse. We have to go out and handle our business better. Until this season we have been good on the road. We talked about a lot of the things that have to be shored up that wasn’t there in the first three road games. And hopefully we will be better.”