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Cowboys' offensive line under the microscope

The SportsXchange

The Cowboys are tied atop the NFC East with the Eagles and Giants with a 2-1 mark.

But they are not under any illusions that they are playing good football. The Cowboys offense has struggled the past two weeks in a 27-7 loss to the Seahawks and a 16-10 victory against the Buccaneers.

The offense has scored just two touchdowns the past games mainly because the offensive line has struggled with penalties, poor pass protection and too much penetration in the running game.

The line must be better starting Monday against the Chicago Bears if they Cowboys hope to get things to clicking again on offense.

It won't be easy because the Bears have the best defensive front they have faced all season.

Their line has accounted for 12 sacks, including three by tackle Henry Melton and 4.5 by ends Israel Idonije and Julious Peppers.

"They've got depth," offensive line coach Bill Callahan said. "They rotate guys a pair at a time. They just keep them fresh and keep them rolling and keep them penetrating in that one-gap scheme. That's what they do best. We're up for that. 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 and we've got to play better."

Right guard Mackenzy Bernardeau has been disappointing as well after getting a four-year, $11 million contract in free agent.

Now he could be on the brink of losing his job if he doesn't get better.

"We want more from him," Callahan said. "I've made this point to him. We've sat down very point blank, very frank, and just told him, 'Hey, we need to get you better. We're going to keep working to get you better.' I've got to do a better job. I've got to do a better job with him, and we're working together to try to make him the player he can be."

The Cowboys believe they will do better with the pre-snap penalties once they get more comfortable with center Ryan Cook, who was acquired Aug. 31 from the Dolphins and then was forced into the lineup three plays into the season opener against the Giants on Sept. 5 when starter Phil Costa was sidelined with a back injury.

Costa remains sidelined and the team hopes to get better with Cook.

Bottom line is the Cowboys must improve across the board quickly to win games and for the safety of Romo.

"We have to do a better job keeping Tony clean," Callahan said. "There was some hellacious hits. There is nobody that takes more pride in protecting the passer than this group of guys. So they are hurt. They don't like to see their guy get knocked around. So we are addressing everything. We will see. Talk is cheap. We have to go out there Monday and show people we got it right."
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