The nameless Dallas Cowboys gum-flappers who allegedly blasted the coaching staff stood at attention Wednesday morning as head coach Mike McCarthy addressed the fractious locker room and spun front-page news into what he dubbed a “teachable moment” for his spiraling 2-4 team.
“The anonymous is something I think we all don’t want to recognize,” McCarthy told reporters, via USA Today. “But I’ll just say this: Any time, especially this year of all years, being our first year together, I think it is important to recognize anything and everything for a teachable moment.
“So any time I have a chance to teach and make it clear what our expectation is, always moving that needle toward winning, that’s my approach.”
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Under the veil of anonymity and after initially agreeing to keep grievances in-house, multiple players trashed their superiors in comments made to NFL Network’s Jane Slater on Tuesday, the day after Dallas’ 38-10 embarrassing home loss to Arizona.
“Totally unprepared. They don’t teach. They don’t have any sense of adjusting on the fly,” one player told Slater.
“They just aren’t good at their jobs,” another said.
It was a hapless primetime showing on each side of the ball at AT&T Stadium, impossible to digest. The Andy Dalton-led offense was neutered by franchise quarterback Dak Prescott’s absence; the play-calling, a joint venture between McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, was wholly uninspiring if downright maddening; and Mike Nolan’s defense was … well, Mike Nolan’s defense, embarrassed on national television by Kyler Murray and Co. To top it all off, the man who hired Nolan appears no better than predecessor Jason Garrett.
Slater, for obvious reasons, never disclosed which players said what, nor whether they were remarking on Dallas’ offense or defense. Regardless, McCarthy conveyed, all parties involved — staff included — must be held accountable for unacceptable on-field play. And should a future discrepancy arise, he emphasized, “handle things as men.”
“I mean, if you do have something to say publicly, I think it’s important to say to the individual, particularly in a group dynamic setting,” McCarthy said. “Especially in the game of football. Especially the Dallas Cowboys.”
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Player Reaction to Criticism
Safe to say Ezekiel Elliott wasn’t among Slater’s sources. The Cowboys’ star running back, who publicly and privately apologized to teammates for persistent fumbling woes, urged his band of brothers to remain just that going forward.
“We need to keep that type of stuff in house,” Elliott said, via USA Today. “Everyone in this building needs to take a look in the mirror and figure out what they could be doing to help this team win. Just everyone look in the mirror and fix that and we will all be better.”
Linebacker Jaylon Smith, whose 2020 effort has been a bone of fan contention, was more direct — and less politically correct — than Zeke. “If you got something to say, just put your name on it. All of that anonymous stuff is really trash to me,” Smith said Thursday.
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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL