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The Cowboys seem as confused as everybody else as to why they stink right now

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Is there any way to rescue the Cowboys?

Dallas Cowboys v Chicago Bears Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

And so it goes. For the last three games, the Dallas Cowboys have sunk to a season low and nobody seems to know what to do about it. The one thing that many want done is not going to happen, and that’s the firing Jason Garrett. Of course, that’s not the end-all solution, but it would feel like the team is at least doing something, something that might shake this edition of the Cowboys out of their stupor.

Jerry Jones isn’t inclined to make that firing reality while the Cowboys are still in contention for the playoffs. Yes, if you are a Cowboys fan who wants Garrett fired, you can blame the Philadelphia Eagles for it not happening. As long as the Cowboys can smell the playoffs, Jerry is all in with Garrett.

“Are you asking me if I would take the division and go to the playoffs, if we got in on any basis? The answer is yes. Absolutely, yes,” Jones said. “Acceptable? I don’t know. Not if we’re not playing good, but if we’re playing a lot better than we played tonight, I’ll take getting in.”

Jerry is still thinking about the playoffs, and as long as that is the case then Garrett will still be the coach. Curse you, Eagles.

Jerry does mention playing better. Everybody would like to see that, but first you have to figure out what’s wrong. No one has that answer.

“These guys are mentally OK for me, and all these guys are talented enough for me, so that’s good,” Jones said. “I’m questioning how to put together a coordinated one that complements each other, how to put together a team that can win a football game. ... We’re not collectively getting together as a team and doing the things it takes to win ballgames.”

Quarterback Dak Prescott doesn’t really have any idea on why this team has fallen apart, either.

Prescott said the offense had their “best week of preparation” in practice. Why they couldn’t carry it over to game day, once again, is the question.

“Can’t put a finger on it,” Prescott said. “Wish I could right now. If I could, obviously we wouldn’t be in this situation. We’d be getting over this and out of this slump. But that’s the most frustrating part is we have the skill level, we have the players, we have the chemistry at times.

“But we’re not playing together as a team complementary enough when we need to, and we’ve got to figure out what it is.”

This late in a season, there usually aren’t drastic changes you can make (besides firing a coach). You’re not likely to reconfigure your scheme or take on a new personality on offense or defense. Any changes will be incremental.

But Jason Garrett has identified one thing, and if you go back and closely watch the film, what he says makes some sense, particularly on defense.

“Oftentimes, some of the guys want to go make a play -- ‘I’m going to go sack the quarterback, I’m going to go make a play on this run.’ And that gets you out of your gap and ultimately that’s what hurts you,” he said. “So, we just simply have to do a better job of that on a consistent basis throughout the game.”

All the things we complain about with the coaches, or Jerry Jones, or the play-calling or whatever, all of that has legitimacy. But guys not staying disciplined and guys trying to make big hits and overrunning simple tackles etc., shows up on film.

And the Bears knew it. And they took advantage of it. Here’s Mitchell Trubiksy on his running the football effectively against the Dallas defense.

“Just taking what the defense gave us,” Trubisky said. “We knew they were going to do that. There were some openings. I did my job of pulling the ball down and running. I thought I ran smart.”

When media and fans talk about effort and the Cowboys quitting, I would argue the tape doesn’t show that. What it does show is an undisciplined team that is overaggressive, over-committing and getting burned for it. That includes the offsides penalties that helped keep drives alive for the Bears.

The Cowboys are not a smart football team or a disciplined one. That may go back to the coaches, but some of it also falls on players who should know better.

The tackling by the defense enters a whole other category of bad. That’s just poor fundamentals. Giving up gap discipline and being poor tacklers will lead to an inferior offense walking all over you.

“They consistently moved the ball throughout the game,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “They were able to run the football with their runners, their quarterback runs, they kept drives alive, they made timely plays in the passing game, they cashed in when they got down in there close, and we just didn’t play well enough defensively really in any part of it.”

Even Jerry Jones is having a hard time keeping up a level of optimism.

“It’s leveled out here. It’s losing, losing, losing. I’m not trying to be funny here, but the point is we’ve got to win a football game,” Jones said. “I don’t care what the standings are, what the numbers are. We had thought that we could come up here and play a good team, play a fine football game and get our act to where we’re starting to look like a team that could -- if we, by the slim chance, get in the playoffs -- where we could win. We can’t do that until we play and start winning the football games, and we’ve got three more to play. When we do that, we can go.”

Still, the team is trying to hold on to hope. As bad as they have been, they still have a chance to reach the playoffs.

“There’s still hope. We’ve got to play better football,” [Ezekiel] Elliott said. “That’s what it comes down to, playing better football, going out there and executing.”

Sounds good, except when you hear something like this from kicker Brett Maher.

“I felt like I did a good job staying in my lane this week,” [Maher] said. “I felt like I hit every ball pretty well tonight. I’ll put my head on the pillow tonight feeling good about what I did this week and moving forward.”

Really? You missed a field goal, you hit a kickoff out of bounds at a crucial moment, you were terrible on a botched onside kick (not the final one but the one before), and you feel good about what you did?

Maybe accountability is the big issue. Maybe players don’t feel that their jobs could be in danger. Maybe not firing Jason Garrett sends that message of no accountability. Maybe not replacing Brett Maher really sends that message.

Or maybe things are just too far gone.