More predictable than a weekly Dallas Cowboys no-show is the day-after justification for maintaining the status quo.
Another loss — a 25-3 stinker at Washington that dropped the club to 2-5 — gave way to another vote of confidence in head coach Mike McCarthy and a blinkered staff that has prompted fans and media alike to speculate on potential pink slips.
“I think we’re going in the right direction. I think Coach McCarthy and his staff, it’s going to take time for them to implement what they do and the way they play,” Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said Monday on 105.3 The Fan.
“Mike brings consistency to the table and it will ultimately happen here. We completely understand that there’s going to be criticisms and questions until we start to put a product on the field that deserves to start to eliminate some of those question marks and criticism.”
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McCarthy’s squad is consistent, alright. Consistently terrible. His Dak Prescott-less offense is unwatchable with now-concussed quarterback Andy Dalton under center, allowing twice as many sacks (six) in Week 7 as points scored (three). The Cowboys registered a pathetic 59 passing yards and 2.6 yards per play and went three-for-12 on third downs against Washington.
His defense is historically futile and somehow getting worse. They made Football Team QB Kyle Allen (15-of-25, 194 yards, 2 TDs) look like Joe Theismann and a previously-hapless foe, losers of five straight, like worldbeaters. Dallas has ceded 20-plus first-half points in six consecutive games, a new NFL record.
This is the league’s worst defensive unit powered by arguably the league’s worst defensive coordinator, Mike Nolan, a longtime friend of McCarthy’s who will continue to hold power.
“That hasn’t crossed my mind,” McCarthy said Sunday when asked about replacing Nolan. “I’m focused on getting better each and every day. That’s where we are.”
While catastrophic injuries and an unprecedented NFL season provide a modicum of excuse for the Cowboys (along with several other teams, some with better records), the result ultimately falls at McCarthy’s feet. He’s overseeing highly-paid professional players who cannot master carrying, tackling, covering — pee-wee fundamentals. Nothing excuses what they’ve put on tape this season. Nothing.
By hitching his wagon to Nolan’s questionable star, McCarthy further exposes himself to a for-cause firing. But for his superiors who stuck with Jason Garrett for a decade, and despite the Cowboys’ worst start since 2010, the former Super Bowl-winning Packers coach has a get-of-jail-free card.
“Coach (Mike) McCarthy has been through this before,” Jones said Monday on 105.3 The Fan. “When he stepped in at Green Bay I think he started 1-4 (in 2006) and got it up to 4-8 and finished strong. They went on and made the playoffs 11 out of 12 times. This is going to be a work in progress.”
He added: “I think anybody that’s a competitor when you’re not winning wants to figure out what the answer is. And when it’s not right there at your fingertips, you don’t have that silver bullet, you can’t just fix it. You want to be able to get your hands around it and go to work and get back on track. That’s exactly where I am. I know that’s where Jerry is. I know that’s where our staff and players are. We’ve got good players on this football team that want to get it right. I feel good that ultimately, with this staff, we’re going to continue to improve and get better. It’s the first year with this group. You know Jerry and I are big believers in sticking with a staff. We just got to give them their opportunity to work with these guys and continue to implement what they are trying to get accomplished, and ultimately we’re going to have a good football team.”
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Message to the Fans
Jones did not try to deny that Dallas is a flawed franchise whose championship expectations probably should be re-aligned. But there’s still plenty to play for, including the division, starting Sunday against the Eagles.
That was the basis of his response when propositioned to sell an extremely frustrated and borderline checked-out fan base on a team that’s dropped four of its last five games.
“You’re gonna watch a team evolve over time,” Jones said Monday on 105.3 The Fan. “Coach McCarthy is certainly a coach that has proven he can do it year-in and year-out. I think this is team that is going through a transition, certainly has some injury issues. But at the same time, we’re going to watch some young guys step up and you’re going to get to see this team evolve and make plays. Whether it’s our receiving core. Whether it’s getting Zack Martin back, and seeing how we evolve on the offensive side of the ball. At the same time, seeing some of these defensive guys as they get their hands around our scheme, and what we’re doing on defense that we’re going to play good football.
“I do think it’s going to be a real interesting team to watch. At the same time, I’m not sticking my head in the sand. I understand there’s gonna be frustration with how we’re playing right now, what our record is. Those are all things that certainly deserve to be looked at hard. Certainly, we deserve and understand why there’s criticism, and why some people are going to have question marks. But I do think this will evolve.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL