- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas – At least offensive line coach Bill Callahan isn’t trying to put lipstick on a bunch of pigs.
The Cowboys are tied for last in the NFL in scoring, lead the league in false starts and are coming off a game in which the Buccaneers beat up quarterback Tony Romo and dropped the Dallas tailbacks for losses eight times. The offensive line’s performance is arguably the Cowboys’ biggest problem at this point of the season.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat this,” Callahan said. “We did not play well and we are not playing well right now.”
Callahan, however, is staying positive. He praises his linemen’s diligence and work ethic. He says he’s seen good things from each guy and was especially pleased with left tackle Tyron Smith’s performance against Tampa Bay.
Yet Callahan acknowledges there have been plenty of painful moments for the line. And all five starters have stunk it up at times.
Right tackle Doug Free, the most expensive, experienced member of the line, might be the worst of the bunch so far. Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings, the guards added in free agency, had woeful performances against Tampa Bay. Center Ryan Cook, picked up off the scrap heap at the end of preseason, has had some struggles. And Smith, who leads the NFL in false starts, got dominated by the Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul in the season opener.
And it will only get tougher against a terrific Bears front seven that comes to town Monday night.
“No question. We’re up for that,” Callahan said. “We’ve got to man up and do our best. We’re up for that challenge and we’ve got great respect for what’s out there. But we know what’s in front of us. We know that the crowd coming in here on Monday night is going to be our biggest challenge to date so we’ve got to play better.”
Callahan believes the Cowboys have the personnel in place to be a quality offensive line. He believes in the scheme, pointing out that he’s put four kids through college with his zone blocking attack. He sees a lot of mistakes that he believes can be corrected.
“We’ve certainly got the talent,” Callahan said. “So it’s all technical.”