Looking to assign blame on Cowboys' offense? Start with everybody

SEATTLE -- Three games into the 2018 season, the Dallas Cowboys have scored four touchdowns.

On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints (thanks to overtime) scored five touchdowns each in their respective games.

If you're looking for whom to blame for the Cowboys' poor offensive start to the 2018 season, which is really a carryover from the poor finish to the 2017 season, start with ... everybody.

It's easy to pick on the quarterback, Dak Prescott, and the playcaller, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, but when things are as bad as they have been, everybody involved deserves a share of the anger.

Start with the front office.

The Cowboys tried to sign Sammy Watkins to a $16 million-a-year deal in free agency, but he opted to sign with the Chiefs and has 14 catches for 176 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys' leading receiver is Cole Beasley, who has 12 catches for 132 yards. Ezekiel Elliott is second in receptions with 11 for 37 yards. Yes, 37.

The Cowboys released Dez Bryant in April after adding Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson in free agency. They drafted Michael Gallup in the third round, and he was not strong enough on a first-quarter slant from Prescott that ended up in Earl Thomas' hands for the first of his two interceptions.

Jason Witten retired after the draft, so the options were a bit more limited, but the Cowboys opted to go with Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin and Rico Gathers, as well as fourth-round pick Dalton Schultz, who has been inactive the past two games.

Swaim entered the season with nine receptions for his career. He has eight for 65 yards so far. No other tight end has a catch. Gathers has more false-start penalties than receptions. Jarwin was the target on Prescott's second pick Sunday, which was deflected into the air.

"I don't see anybody in that room who will expect that we can't do better offensively no matter what the conditions are, on the road or otherwise," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said.

"It was pretty obvious all day long we were disjointed and just couldn't make it happen."

OK, let's move on to the offensive line.

The Cowboys' line is considered one of the best in the NFL when healthy. The problem is there is no timetable for the return of Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick from Guillain-Barre syndrome. Prescott has been sacked 11 times in two road games: six times at the Carolina Panthers in Week 1 and five times by Seattle.

"It starts up front," Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin said. "It's no secret. We can run the ball all we want, but if we can't protect the quarterback and let him have time to make plays then we're not going to be a very good offense. We've got to be our biggest critics, figure out what's going wrong and fix it."

Now on to the playcalling and quarterback.

In the season opener against the Panthers, the Cowboys were caught behind the chains because of negative plays and penalties. Against the Seahawks, they faced third-and-5 or less six times and converted just twice. For the season, the Cowboys have converted just eight of 34 third-down opportunities.

The offense's inability to stay on the field affected the Cowboys' defense Sunday. In the past, the Cowboys had to dominate on offense to protect the defense. Now, the defense has to be great to keep the Cowboys in the game. On Sunday, it was just OK, with only two sacks and no takeaways.

"Our defense started out great," Elliott said. "We left them on the field too long and they got worn down. We scored three points in the first half. We've got to be better than that."

In their first three games, the Cowboys have had 33 possessions. Four have ended in touchdowns. Four have ended in field goals. Three have ended by taking a knee to end a half or a game. Twenty have not gained more than 25 yards. Only 12 have traveled from Dallas territory to the opponent's side of the field.

"We've got to find exactly our go-to in the passing game and not necessarily am I speaking on a player," said Prescott, who failed to reach 200 yards passing for the ninth time in the past 11 games. "I'm just speaking on our go-to concepts or go-to beaters or whatever it may be that we didn't get to [where] we always know that's in our back pocket, get some yards when we're backed up in the chains, get us back on pace. That's the thing we've got to find out."

They've got to find out fast.

A season hangs in the balance.