There are a lot of problems with the Dallas Cowboys. The face of the issues is Jason Garrett. He certainly has his flaws and well-deserved share of the blame but, and no one is making excuses for him, he is hardly the only problem.
You only get to a place of dysfunction like the Cowboys find themselves in if multiple people are failing to do their jobs. Jason Garrett is failing the team, Jerry Jones is failing the team, and oh yea, the players are failing the team.
Players are failing at football-related things like making tackles and executing on given plays, but they’re also failing in the locker room. Dallas is a fairly young team in a lot of ways, and when that’s the case you are inherently relying on young players for a lot of things.
The Cowboys went all-in on their young players leading their team. Jason Witten and Sean Lee are on the team, but they are notably not captains. The former said before the season that he wanted to allow this to be the younger players’ teams and this is a point that NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo emphasized on Sunday morning.
Garafolo also noted that the team is missing someone else - Tyrone Crawford. You’ll remember that Crawford went on injured reserve back in October, and while a lot of fans grew disappointed with his play on the field he was vital in the locker room. His presence was invaluable.
From the @NFLGameDay Notebook with @MikeGarafolo: #Raiders RB Josh Jacobs, who has an MRI looming this week, is dealing with a broken shoulder, the #Steelers plan at RB with James Conner out, #Browns WR Odell Beckham has a sports hernia, and the #Cowboys leadership void. pic.twitter.com/7pLRh5g8Ec— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 8, 2019
“I don’t think we’ve spent enough time talking about the leadership problems in that locker room. Remember coming into the season Jason Witten said he wanted to take a step back from his leadership role. He said for the young guys ‘It’s their team.’ Same with Sean Lee who’s no longer a starter. They wanted the younger guys to lead. They just have not done it. Next thing you know you’ve got Michael Bennett screaming in the locker room on Thanksgiving. I’m told another guy that is badly missed is Tyrone Crawford the defensive lineman. He would hold guys accountable for missed assignments on defense. Nobody doing that right now. That is a major issue with the Cowboys.”
There is perhaps no greater disappointment here than Jaylon Smith if we are being honest with ourselves. Plenty of people elevated Smith before the season began as both a great player and leader. He has not been either of those things.
Jaylon Smith called himself a leader and now here we are... lacking leadership from young players
Our own Dave Halprin did a great job over the weekend at noting how Smith’s game in Chicago served as a microcosm of the season for the Cowboys. Everything said there is objectively true, but when you put what Garafolo said on Sunday up against what Smith said back in August it looks even worse for the linebacker.
Smith called himself a leader in the press conference announcing his extension with the Cowboys. He specifically said that he would eventually be a captain for the team as well. He would soon go on to be named one and a few months later, here we are.
If you’re going to talk that talk then you better walk that walk. Jaylon Smith elevated himself and anointed himself as a leader for the Dallas Cowboys, four months later the leadership from young players like himself is being questioned by the world.
And for what it’s worth, everyone associated with the Dallas Cowboys constantly praises Dak Prescott for his leadership abilities. He’s a young player too, and he’s the quarterback. What’s going on here?
What a disappointment.