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Cowboys news: Who is to blame for disappointing season in Dallas?

Latest Cowboys headlines: Is it Dak or Dez's fault? Are Garrett and Linehan to blame? Or is it on Jerry after all?

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Is it Dak or Dez's fault? Key takeaways from the Cowboys' Christmas Eve mess - Bob Sturm, SportsDay
Bob Sturm gives his thoughts on the another Cowboys' season ending in disappointment, looking beyond just the disappointing offensive play from the Seahawks game.

Unfortunately, we have seen butchered offensive execution and self-inflicted wounds so often in the Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan era that we sometimes minimize their roles. But, as Troy Aikman said yesterday, if Dak Prescott is making decisions that you don't agree with as coach, then it is up to you to take those decisions back from him. This isn't that complicated unless you make it so.

And, repeatedly, under Jason Garrett, the Cowboys make the simple appear complex. You could do worse than him as your head coach, but I am under the belief that it seems time to consider doing better.

But, as always, the case when discussing Cowboys football, every time you try to follow the trail to the true culprit, the trail continues to a bigger culprit. Is it your QB? Or is it his boss? Is it your OC? Or is it his boss? Is it your head coach? Or is it his boss? Oh, yes. Here we are again looking at Jerry Jones again.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. We will not blame Tony Romo for this one or Wade Phillips or Dave Campo or Quincy Carter. Only one thing ties 22 years of Cowboys disappointment together and the stubbornness to try a different route.

Jones on Garrett's status: 'I feel good about our coach' - Nick Shook,
Shook looks at Jason Garrett's tenure with the Cowboys.

Jones has plenty of experience with Garrett, watching his team's former backup quarterback during its Super Bowl run of the 1990s become its offensive coordinator less than a decade later. After the ousting of Wade Phillips, he assumed the top role, a position he's held since taking over in the middle of the 2010 season. In that span, he's posted a 66-53 record including 13-3 and 12-4 seasons, but is suddenly heading toward his fourth 8-8 finish with a Week 17 loss.

This season has not been without challenge. Dallas was forced to play without star running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games due to his suspension, and also showed the effects of a shuffling of starters on the offensive line and a handful of injuries among the position group. Quarterback Dak Prescott has also endured second-year struggles that have made some start to forget about his scintillating rookie campaign. Simply, things have been better in Dallas.

Then again, the Cowboys are nowhere near disaster. Yes, Garrett has made the playoffs just twice, but this team was not without fault, featuring multiple holes that were covered up by the play of Prescott, Elliott and a league-best offensive line in 2016. Those weaknesses -- and perhaps a new one in Dallas' receiving corps -- came to light in 2017.

Jason Witten Sees "Too Many Positives" To Consider Calling It A Career - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys
At the mothership David Helman discusses Jason Witten's determination to continue playing.

“It’s a great question,” Witten said. “Every week I have an opportunity to break this team down, and I see too much positive – I really do. I feel too good to think that that would end. My intention is to keep playing.”

Witten finished with five catches for 39 yards in the 21-12 loss to the Seahawks, which puts him over the 60-catch marker for the 14th time in 15 seasons. He is on pace to finish with his lowest yardage total since his rookie year, but his five touchdowns tie his second-best mark in the last seven years.

Play Calling Near The Goal Line, Grading The Secondary - Bryan Broadus, Dallas Cowboys
Also at the mothership, Byran Broadus looked at the film and came away with the exact some questions most of us had regarding red-zone playcalling:

If you have the chance one day, ask David Helman how many times I said the Seahawks’ defense can’t stop anyone from the goal line. Every time the Jaguars or Rams got down in that position, they scored. I have no explanation for why the Cowboys didn’t run Elliott down inside the 5-yard line to try and get those points. It’s ironic that the Seahawks lost a Super Bowl doing the exact same thing. I guess it’s only fitting that they now get to live to fight another day while the Cowboys can only wonder what could have been.

Instant Analysis: Cowboys can’t get it together, fall to Seahawks 21-12 - Zeke Barrera, Cowboys Wire
Zeke Barrera over at CowboysWire provides his analysis on Sunday's disappointing defeat, with Ezekiel Elliott and Taco Charlton earning gameballs.

Ezekiel Elliott: In his return, they likely should’ve gone to him more. He carried the ball 24 times for 97 yards, but even his presence wasn’t enough to resurrect the Cowboy’s offense to 2016’s level. Still, Elliott is very much the engine of this team, and his impact is clearly felt.

Taco Charlton: The young rookie has come along slowly, as most pass rushing prospects do, but he flashed his potential on Seattle’s first offensive drive. Charlton recorded his third sack of the season and then later flushed Russell Wilson out of the pocket and forced an incompletion on third down, pushing the Seahawks off the field. There’s still plenty of reason to believe in Charlton and the Dallas defensive line.

3 things we learned in Cowboys loss to Seahawks - John Owning, FanRag Sports
John provides his three thoughts on the Cowboys' season-ending loss to the Seahawks, including his observation that Dez Bryant is no longer a #1 receiver.

Bryant’s frustrating 2017 continued against the Seahawks. He hauled in just three catches for 44 yards on six targets, including a lost fumble and a disastrous drop near the red zone that fell into the hands of Seahawk linebacker K.J. Wright for an interception.

Outside of slants and dig routes, Bryant hasn’t been able to create organic separation off the line of scrimmage or at the top of his routes, making it easy for opposing teams to take him out of games. With Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley lacking the talent necessary to be go-to receivers, the Cowboys’ offense is devoid of a No. 1 option in the passing game, making life more difficult on Dak Prescott.

Ezekiel Elliott got all the touches in his return, except the most significant one - Todd Archer, ESPN
Archer questions why Elliott wasn't utilized when the Cowboys' season was in the balance.

The Cowboys will carry what ifs with them from the loss to Seattle throughout the offseason.

They will carry what ifs with them regarding Elliott’s absence. They went 3-3 without him, but the offense was unable to generate a touchdown in the three losses, and the passing game became stale without the threat of Elliott.

It wasn’t better on Sunday with him. Prescott threw for 182 yards, completing 21 of 34 passes. It was the seventh time this season he did not throw for at least 200 yards.

But when it mattered most, the Cowboys went with the pass instead of handing the ball to Elliott.

“It was just one of those days,” Elliott said. “Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. We beat ourselves.”

And they will have to watch the playoffs as a result.

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