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If the Cowboys had to lose, better that they lost in a big way

An embarrassing playoff exit hurts for now, but it may have been necessary to bring about real change for the Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys v Miami Dolphins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Emotions are high right now after the Dallas Cowboysshocking blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the 2023 playoffs. If there is a silver lining to be found today, this level of embarrassment is more likely to lead to the big changes that the team needs to break the cycle of disappointment.

It’s one thing to lose heartbreakingly on some late-game blunder or heroics from the opposition. That’s what we’ve seen more often over the last decade; much narrower losses in the 2014, 2016, and 2022 playoff eliminations. Sometimes the score is closer than the game really felt, like against the Rams in 2018 or the 49ers in 2021, but at least those games weren’t utter blowouts.

This one was something we haven’t seen since 2009, when Wade Phillips’ Cowboys got destroyed 34-3 by the Vikings. But even in that instance, it was in the second round and the game was on the road.

You could make the case that this loss was the Cowboys’ worst showing in the playoffs of Jerry Jones’ ownership. They played a 9-8 team at home and didn’t even look like they belonged in the tournament. It was an utter no-show on both sides of the ball.

If this had been a nail-biter, the front office could easily reason that we just run it back next year. They could have repeated the “we’re so close” strategy, hoping that a few savvy offseason moves, getting Trevon Diggs back, and re-signing some key players might be enough.

Clearly, and not just based on yesterday, this team isn’t ready for the next level of contention. There was a lot of fools’ gold in that 12-5 record; few wins against quality competition. The Cowboys fell backward into the NFC East title, losing two critical games against Buffalo and Miami in December and just being lucky enough that the Eagles went into freefall.

A lot of that could be glossed over if Dallas had looked better this postseason. Another second-round loss, or even a more competitive showing against the Packers, and perhaps Jerry Jones talks himself into running it back with minimal changes. But now, thanks to that big loss, every red flag is flying and nobody should be safe.

Mike McCarthy wasn’t brought here to maintain the status quo. His experience and Super Bowl ring were supposed to elevate the team from the days of Jason Garrett, Wade Phillips. and Bill Parcells. And while three straight seasons of 12 wins look good on paper, the playoff results are arguably at all-time lows.

Dan Quinn? Maybe we should be grateful if another team is willing to make him their head coach. The lack of adjustments and answers yesterday, especially against the predictable dominance of running back Aaron Jones, was demoralizing.

Dak Prescott? Those MVP conversations last week seem pretty silly right now. About $62 million in dead money left on his contract means a change in 2024 is unlikely, but at least now you have to start wondering about a major contract extension.

The nuclear option has to be considered at every level of the coaching staff and roster. As bad as we feel today, a minor mitigating factor is that Jerry Jones shares our pain. We’ll see what happens to McCarthy or others here soon. But at the very least, these changes are more likely to happen thanks to how ugly the Cowboys’ playoff exit was.

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