Cowboys keep penalties down for change

IRVING, Texas -- Penalties have been an issue for the Dallas Cowboys for years, no matter who has been the head coach.

Slowly Jason Garrett appears to have tightened the strings a little bit.

Through three games, the Cowboys have been penalized 16 times for 139 yards. Only nine teams have fewer penalties than the Cowboys through three games.

It might not sound like much, but it’s great progress. Through three games last year, the Cowboys had 31 penalties for 238 yards on their way to 117 penalties for 853 yards. The Cowboys have not been this penalty-free, so to speak, through the first three games of a season since 2001.

In that year they had 13 penalties for 109 yards in an 0-3 start that turned into a 5-11 finish.

Defensively the Cowboys have four penalties. Doug Free, who led the NFL with 15 penalties a year ago, has yet to draw a flag this season.

“We are making an emphasis on it,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We understand those things don’t help you. They hurt you. Again, you never want to take a team’s aggressiveness away from them, but we just have to minimize those types of plays. We have to take care of the ball better. We have to minimize the penalties and not beat ourselves. It’s a big emphasis for our football team. We have done a pretty good job of it so far. We have to get better though.”