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Cowboys news: Players, coaches, front office all under the microscope after deflating Eagles loss

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Eatman: Cowboys Refuse to Step on the Clutch - Nick Eatman,
The Cowboys own the league’s #1 offense and #11 defense and a sub-.500 record. Why? Because they’re not clutch.

You know what my biggest complaint about this team has been all season, and it reared its very ugly head once again?

The Cowboys just aren’t clutch.

Yeah, they’re talented – at some positions. And yes, they’ve got Pro Bowlers and guys who have been to the Pro Bowl. They’ve got veterans who will be in the Hall of Fame and others who might be in the Ring of Honor.

But when they really have to get it done – they don’t make the play.

They didn’t get that 2-point conversion against the Jets when they had battled back. They didn’t drive the field in the final seconds against the Saints. They didn’t make those necessary yards to drive the ball against the Patriots in the rain. They didn’t get that crucial fourth-down pass against the Vikings after driving into the red zone.

And on Sunday, they once again battled back to get within striking distance, but couldn’t make the plays in the clutch.

Defense Dissects Another Missed Opportunity - David Helman,
The Dallas defense couldn’t stop the Eagles’ practice squad; yet another poor performance from this unit.

The scoreboard suggests they played a decent game. Philadelphia finished the night with just two touchdowns and 17 points, which is typically enough to win an NFL game – though Quinn didn’t want to hear that.

“Well, they scored 17 and we scored nine,” he said. “Defense shouldn’t allow 17 points.”

It’s not as if the Cowboys managed to make plays, though. Carson Wentz guided the Eagles to 411 yards, and a big part of that was due to their success rate of 43% on third down. Jaylon Smith said it was a critical factor in the game, and Lawrence agreed with him.

“Inconsistency comes with me losing my gap or the quarterback rolling out of the pocket – all of these little things that play into a play call that can throw your defense off,” Lawrence said.

Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones has 'a lot to consider' on Jason Garrett - Jarrett Bell,
It seems inevitable Sunday will be Jason Garrett’s final game as Cowboys head coach.

Jerry Jones didn’t fire Jason Garrett on Sunday.

But he knows what you’re probably thinking. If there is any confirmation needed to prompt the Dallas Cowboys owner to pull the trigger and part ways with his embattled coach, it came with the dumpster fire that was the 17-9 defeat against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

Barring some miracle – a Philadelphia loss to the Giants, coupled with a Dallas win against Washington next Sunday – this season of supposed promise is over for the Cowboys.

Jones at least seemed resigned to that near-reality during an exclusive interview with USA TODAY Sports, even though he stopped short of definitively declaring that he’s through with Garrett.

“It leaves, from my perspective, a lot to consider here,” Jones said as he sat in the backseat of a luxury SUV at Lincoln Financial Field. “This was a little bit of a surprise. I didn’t see the Chicago Bears game coming (a 31-24 loss in Week 14) and this one was a surprise. I thought we were prepared to play. I thought we could play better out here. I’m disappointed.”

Jason Garrett Fell Flat on His Face for Possibly the Last Time - Danny Heifetz, The Ringer
Sunday was a quintessential Jason Garrett performance from the Cowboys.

Coaching is about creating a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts, and there could not have been a larger gap between Jason Garrett’s and Doug Pederson’s coaching skill sets than there was in the Cowboys’ 17-9 loss on Sunday. This was the biggest game of the season for both teams. A Cowboys win would have clinched the NFC East. An Eagles victory would give them the ability to clinch with a win or Cowboys loss next week, but Philly was facing an uphill battle because of injuries that had reduced the team’s receiving corps to spare parts. Yet the Eagles had a superior game plan while Dallas looked unprepared, unfocused, and undisciplined throughout the game—and the loss may have ended both Cowboys’ playoff hopes and the coaching tenure of Garrett, whose contract expires at the end of this month.

Cowboys Playoff Hopes Take Huge Hit with Loss to Eagles - Albert Breer, Sports Illustrated
The baffling coaching decisions by Garrett and his staff raised many questions.

On this Sunday, the Cowboys owned very little at Lincoln Financial Field. And as Lawrence said, they most certainly didn’t get the job done.

It wasn’t just that they lost to their arch-rival Philadelphia Eagles. It was the baffling play-calling. It was the game-turning lapses. It was the strange personnel deployment.

In general, maybe it was just everyone trying to do too much for a team from which much was expected and, now, from which much will likely be lost. The final from Philly was 17–9, but this loss felt way worse than that. The undermanned Eagles controlled the tempo and tenor of the game throughout. They outgained the Cowboys 431–311. They had the ball for more than 36 minutes. They forced four punts on Dallas’ first five possessions.

Mostly, the Eagles put these Cowboys in a hole, knowing full well that the visitors, the ultimate frontrunners, have struggled to dig themselves out of anything resembling one all year. Philadelphia got up 10– 0 and led 10–6 at the break. It was the seventh time this year that Dallas trailed at the half. And this one ended the way the other six did—with a Cowboys loss.

Jason Garrett’s resume is filled with big-game losses late in the year. Sunday at Philly was the worst one yet - Tim Cowlishaw,
Was this Jason Garrett’s worst loss ever?

When the Cowboys left Oxnard four months ago, they believed they had a roster filled with the kind of talent that would carry them to the NFC Championship Game and possibly beyond.

When they lost control of their destiny Sunday and assured themselves of nothing better than a .500 season, all their points were scored by Kai Forbath.

Think about that for a moment.

Against a team that surrendered 38 points to Minnesota, 37 to these same Cowboys and another 37 to (oops) the Miami Dolphins, the Eagles put the clampdown on Dallas with a 17-9 victory at the Linc. If Philly fans were limited in their choruses of “Fly Eagles Fly” on Sunday afternoon, Cowboys fans sat practically mute in watching their team fail to reach the end zone for an entire game.

“I’m a little numb that we didn’t come up here and beat them,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

Uncomfortably numb? The lame-duck head coach will find out soon enough.

Once again, the Cowboys prove they don’t deserve to compete with NFL’s elite – Jon Machota, The Athletic
Sunday’s loss to the Eagles’ proved what we already knew - Dallas can’t compete with the league’s best teams.

Dak Prescott struggled with his accuracy. Amari Cooper played as poorly as he has at any point since being traded to the Cowboys. Ezekiel Elliott was bottled up for most of the day. The league’s No. 1 total offense was held 123 yards under their average. The fifth-best scoring offense was held to nine points.

A defense that is very talented on paper allowed an offense filled with backups and practice-squad players to score two touchdowns. It should have been three; Eagles running back Miles Sanders slid after a 38-yard run in the final minute so Philadelphia could run out the clock.

Instead of putting on NFC East championship hats and shirts Sunday night, the Cowboys boarded their team buses like they have five of their last seven road games — with a loss.

“I’m very disappointed,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “We all expected to leave here as NFC East champs. This is a disappointing setback for that locker room and for all of us, and I know it is for the fans.”

History repeats itself for Cowboys, leaving one glimmer of hope — the end is near – Bob Sturm, The Athletic
For many Cowboys’ fans, Sunday felt like deja vu all over again.

You see, if you believe the demolition in Philadelphia yesterday felt familiar, it’s because it was. This is the type of game the Cowboys and Jason Garrett have played several times and in this type of setting, the team has demonstrated a consistency that goes far beyond the players on this current roster or the assistant coaches up and down the sideline. It shows more evidence of the competitive malaise that encompasses one of the proudest sports franchises on the planet for the last 25 years. You don’t need to look very hard to find the consistent threads in that tapestry.

This franchise does not have the coach it deserves. It’s time for the Cowboys to move on from Jason Garrett; that is a given. But I feel like there’s a bigger priority at play. Jerry Jones has to be willing to step aside and cede control of the franchise to someone in the Jimmy Johnson/Bill Parcells mold who would take the job only as long as he had full control over the football decisions and the owner stayed out of his way. If you plan on keeping everything the same as a franchise, then I suppose you might as well stay with Jason Garrett. In my estimation, it isn’t the head coach that is the actual issue here. He is just a symptom of the bigger disease, one that goes back a few decades.

Here was the quote that had me amazed at how the years go by like sands through the hourglass: Yesterday, on his radio show Jerry Jones offered the following quote: “I can assure our fans this, that it’s going to be very uncomfortable from my standpoint, it’s going to be very uncomfortable for the next few weeks and months at Valley Ranch,” Jones told KRLD FM.

As you can see, the location of the Cowboys headquarters have changed, but Jerry certainly hasn’t. That quote from New Year’s Day 2013 will be exactly like something he will say to bring in 2020. We have all been on this ride enough times to know how it works.

Dallas Cowboys defeated, but still have chance at NFC East crown - Jori Epstein,
And yet...somehow the Cowboys are still mathematically alive, despite lacking “direction”.

In the aftermath of the Dallas Cowboys’ 17-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, a response from Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence described how so many view the dismantling of Dallas’ playoff hopes this season.

“Talent without a direction is nothing at all,” Lawrence said.

He was responding to a question about why a seemingly more talented Dallas team couldn’t get the job done — the Cowboys didn’t even score a touchdown — against an injury-ridden Eagles team, with the chance to clinch the NFC East on the line. Lawrence, like several of his teammates, was searching for answers.

“I already said I was pissed,” running back Ezekiel Elliott said in exasperation, at one point. “Really pissed.”

The disappointment continued, answers to the struggles plaguing the Cowboys far less apparent.

A day later, after the Cowboys had finally repaired their plane and returned home, answers to why a seemingly talented collection of players had dropped an eighth loss remained few and far between.

Cowboys: A 7-step offseason plan that will turn Dallas into contenders - Steven Ruiz,
Ruiz takes a stab at fixing the Cowboys’ problems - and starts by firing the entire coaching staff.

As bad as the offensive coaching staff was on Sunday, the defensive staff may have been worse. Sure, the Eagles only scored 17 points but they moved the ball at will despite playing their C-team on offense.

Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard called a dreadful game. They insisted on playing soft zone coverages instead of challenging an underwhelming set of receivers at the line of scrimmage.

That allowed Doug Pederson to create some unfavorable mismatches.

LB Leighton Vander Esch undergoes neck surgery - Nick Shook,
The linebacker, a rookie All Pro last year, finished a disappointing sophomore season with surgery.

Leighton Vander Esch received some good news about his neck issue Monday.

NFL Network's Jane Slater reported following a series of tests, doctors determined a minimally invasive surgery will fix the nerve issue in his neck that cut his season short, according to sources informed of the situation. Vander Esch will undergo surgery and should be back well before training camp, Slater added.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett confirmed the information later Monday, adding Vander Esch will go on injured reserve along with teammate Xavier Su'a-Filo, who underwent surgery on his leg after suffering a broken bone Sunday.

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