The Dallas Cowboys reactivated a problem that was present last season when they began their preseason.
The Cowboys were cited for 17 violations during Saturday’s loss against the Denver Broncos after they had committed an NFL-high 141 penalties in 2021, including 14 in the playoff loss. One of them led McCarthy to bench Dante Fowler.
A newly acquired edge-rusher was called for a personal foul after pushing another player off a pile. Denver scored a touchdown in quarter two.
“That’s a discipline penalty,” McCarthy told reporters after the game, per the team site. “Frankly, that’s why Dante was done for the night after that. We can’t have that.”
Mike McCarthy said he benched Dante Fowler for his penalty in the first half.
— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) August 14, 2022
McCarthy admitted that 17 penalties were “clearly too many” but tried to not let his disappointment get out of control.
“This is preseason. I don’t think this has anything to do with last year,” he said. “But I didn’t like the number of penalties. I made it clear. I talked about it at halftime and I talked about it briefly in there (the locker room). We’ll take a long look at it.”
Fowler, a 28-year old entering his eighth NFL year, probably wouldn’t have seen more action Saturday.
Fowler disrupted a fourth-down play before leaving the game by hitting quarterback Josh Johnson. Cowboys expect to see more from Fowler, the former No. 3 overall pick recorded eight quarterback hits in his two previous seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.
McCarthy may have been making a statement to the team as much as Fowler by attributing his benching to the penalty. Despite their talent, the Cowboys cannot afford to make more mistakes than they have to in 2022.