There was a lot of focus on the final play of Sunday’s Cowboys loss to the 49ers, but the Cowboys’ attempt to spike the ball and run one more play might not have been necessary if they’d been a little more disciplined throughout the game.
Dallas was penalized 14 times for 89 yards over the course of the 23-17 loss and their inability to avoid flags continued a theme that was in place all season. The Cowboys were the most penalized team in the entire league during the regular season and head coach Mike McCarthy said at a Wednesday press conference that changing that will be the top priority of the offseason.
“And our number one focus moving forward is the penalties,” McCarthy said, via 105.3 The Fan. “It’s way too many . . . you look at the pre-snap (penalties), there’s no excuse for it. That’s been a focus all year. You know, the thing I struggle with as a head coach doing this now for a number of years is, I have comparables over a 15-year period and this team here is clearly one of the better teams I’ve coached as far as their mental preparation and their mental execution. . . . Our mental grades don’t coincide with the penalties, because they usually go together. That’s something we’ll take a very hard look at.”
Outside observers might have a different view of the Cowboys’ overall mental execution that McCarthy expressed on Wednesday, but no one’s going to take issue with the team’s need to do less to hurt itself in the future.