Jason Garrett said the team was moving backwards with the ball too often to establish a rhythm.
With almost 24 hours to reflect on the season-opening loss to the Carolina Panthers, Garrett seemed to confirm what everyone saw on Sunday: the Cowboys' defense played well enough to win, but the offense flopped.
Dallas didn't score in the first three quarters in a 16-8 loss to the Panthers.
More often than not, the Cowboys found themselves behind the chains and on third-and-long situations.
Dallas faced third-and-11 or longer 3 times on their first 4 drives and didn't cross the 50 in the first half.
"We weren't effective running the ball enough in the game," Garrett said. "We were behind the chains a lot and that got us in some bad down-and-distance situations where they could pin their ears back a little bit against us. All-in-all, the rhythm wasn't very good early sacks and the minus plays were a big part of that."
Garrett said the film showed some offensive linemen simply getting beat at times, along with penalties and quarterback decisions that resulted in negative plays.
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott was sacked six times.
But the Cowboys coach thinks it's fixable.
"It's our own doing," Garrett said. "We just have to do a better job of minimizing those penalties and certainly minimizing the negative plays both in the run game and, more particularly, when we're throwing the football. And I think if we do that, we'll be able to maintain some rhythm and attack the defense the way we want to. I think you saw more of that in the second half. It was not perfect by any means. But we played with better balance, we played downhill at them a little bit more as the game wore on."
Indeed, Prescott passed for 124 yards in the second half and running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown. Dallas actually won the second half, 8-6, but that doesn't count in the win-loss column.
Garrett was asked if the miscues on offense were a result of the offensive starters having limited playing time in the preseason. But Garrett refused to use that as a scapegoat.
On a personnel note, Garrett confirmed that Randy Gregory came out of the game as part of the concussion protocol. Gregory also had an apparently minor knee injury in the first half. Garrett said Gregory seemed to be improved in both areas on Monday.
--DE Randy Gregory came out of the season-opener as part of the concussion protocol. Gregory also had an apparently minor knee injury in the first half. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Gregory seemed to be improved in both areas on Monday.
--RB Ezekiel Elliott had a slow start versus the Carolina rush defense. Elliott finished with 69 rushing yards on 15 carries, though his production picked up in the second half. He scored the only touchdown on a four-yard romp in the fourth quarter.
--K Brett Maher missed his first career field-goal attempt when his 47-yard try banged off the right upright on Sunday. Since the Cowboys successfully went for 2 on their only touchdown, Maher is still waiting to score his first NFL point. The Cowboys cut seven-year veteran kicker Dan Bailey on September 1, handing off the kicking duties to Maher.
--DE Demarcus Lawrence, who had 14.5 sacks in 2017, had a productive start to the season with 3 TFLs, including a sack among his 7 total tackles.
--WR Cole Beasley took the lead in the Cowboys' retooled passing attack as he led the team with 7 catches for 73 yards in the season opener. Beasley had just 36 catches all of last season.