17 for 129 yards. That’s how many penalties and penalty yards the Dallas Cowboys surrendered in their first preseason game. Yes, 129 yards on 17 penalties. For perspective, that’s more yards than going from goalpost to goalpost. At 17 penalties, that’s the same as getting a flag thrown every 7-8 yards.

Penalties are nothing new, the team lead the entire league in penalties in 2021. In fact, not only did the Cowboys have more penalties thrown at home than anyone else (73), but they were penalized more playing away (68) than any other team was in their home stadium. The majority of which came from Connor Williams, now with the Dolphins.

The issue here isn’t just that the Cowboys were penalized ruthlessly, as some of the penalties were questionable calls at best. Sam Williams, for example.

The real issue is that this is the first, albeit small, glimpse at what the Dallas Cowboys will look like this season. There’s a high likelihood that many players that played on Saturday night will play key snaps in 2022. At their first glimpse, including the exhibition game against Denver the previous Thursday, were mile low underwhelming.

We’ve known for a while what issues the Cowboys roster was going to be. Or at least what they appeared to be. The hope was that the coaching staff learned from a lot of last year’s mistakes and took steps to correct them.

Head coach Mike McCarthy even made it a point of emphasis back in March around penalty prevention.

“I believe in the format that we use. How we emphasize it, how we teach it, penalty prevention, the individual focus and the techniques part of it. That will be heightened… 

This seems to be more of words overcoming actions. A common theme from this past off-season. As the team got progressively worse in some areas, coaching was hoped to be an area of reliance. However, this first impression is leaving a bad taste in the mouth of Cowboys fans.

It is only preseason, and it is only the first game. However, something we have had to learn covering the Dallas Cowboys is recognizing trends.

The Cowboys went from 11th most in penalties in 2020 to most last season. You can’t do any worse that worst, but you can get worse at a worse area.

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports