The Dallas Cowboys‘ penalty issues reared their ugly head during the team’s preseason debut and head coach Mike McCarthy sent a clear message to his squad after the disappointing 17-7 loss to the Broncos.
The Cowboys were flagged 17 times during the matchup, which was the high in the NFL during the first full week of preseason games. It’s a grim situation for the Cowboys, who led the league with 153 penalties — 124 of those accepted — last season. While McCarthy wasn’t too concerned considering the setting, he knows the Cowboys need to be more disciplined to extinguish the narrative.
“I think we all recognize that this isn’t the regular season,” McCarthy told reporters after the game. “I understand your question, (but) last year was last year. I think last year as far as trying to establish a play style and an identity, it took us a while to get that and once we did, we won a number of games. This is really the starting point that you go through every year.
“This is preseason. I don’t think this has anything to do with last year. But I didn’t like the number of penalties. I made it clear. I talked about it at halftime and I talked about it briefly in there (the locker room). We’ll take a long look at it.”
McCarthy Points Out Flag on Dante Fowler
One flag that McCarthy was specifically unhappy with was a personal foul against veteran pass-rusher Dante Fowler. The flag helped set up the Broncos first touchdown of the night.
“That’s a discipline penalty,” McCarthy said. “Frankly, that’s why Dante was done for the night after that. We can’t have that.”
Fowler was acquired this offseason in hopes of being part of the solution to the Cowboys pass-rush rotation but being in the dog house with his head coach early isn’t ideal. While his first outing in Cowboys colors was cut short, Fowler has expressed confidence in being able to contribute.
“[The Cowboys] put me in the right position just to make plays and that’s exactly what’s going on here. I feel really confident in the system, I’m getting more confident in it,” Fowler said during an interview on “105.3 The Fan” on August 10. “It feels great to be part of a team that just wants to win, being able to be a part of a team that has a lot of great guys, lot of great teammates that has good chemistry and really just has one goal to win a Super Bowl.”
Cowboys Rookie Tyler Smith Not Satisfied With Debut
While most of the Cowboys’ notable names were on the bench, all eyes were on first-round pick Tyler Smith, who logged quite a bit of time. Smith played 37 snaps, allowing just one pressure, per PFF. However, he did contribute to the penalty issues with a pair of holding calls.
“I feel like there’s a lot to improve on. I’m never going to praise myself,” Smith told reporters after the game. “I just got to improve. I seek to be better regardless if I had a good game, bad game or whatever it may be. Be better than you were the day before.”
The Cowboys second preseason tilt is scheduled for August 20 against the Chargers.