For the first time since Week 3, the Dallas Cowboys are no longer in control of their own destiny.
After falling 17-9 to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Dallas has not only lost its grip on the NFC East, but it has put its postseason hopes and its head coach's career with the franchise on the absolute edge.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones held a short-but-not-sweet post-game media scrum after the game. “It’s very disappointing," he said. "We all expected to leave here as NFC East champs. We’re not.”
The game was a series of errors in many aspects for Dallas. From Tony Pollard fumbling on third down after Zeke Elliott checked himself out of the game, to Dak Prescott (playing with a bum shoulder that he said afterward was not bothersome) missing wide-open receivers, to Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb being on the sideline on the game's deciding fourth-down play, this has got to be the end for the roster as presently constructed and for coach Jason Garrett.
Maybe, that's what the fans want, and frankly, it is hard to argue. The Cowboys have lost four of their last six games coming down the home stretch.
There are still building blocks at The Star that the Cowboys can take forward into the future. In fact, from a roster standpoint, they are still a very talented group.
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That said, if the Jones family is actually serious about contending for championships, a fundamental change in the roster and the coaching staff simply cannot be avoided.
The first step is a separation from Garrett, as well as the rest of this coaching staff. The next is a re-evaluation of the entire roster from the top down.
"We're too talented," Prescott said. "And we just didn’t execute the way that we’re capable of.”
Unfortunately, in addition to being in denial, the way the Cowboys have been constructed will make change difficult to accomplish. There are too many big-money contracts to simply move on from the core of this underachieving team.
With all of that said, the Cowboys season is technically not over. However, in order for things to be salvaged, Dallas (7-8) must beat the Redskins at home next week and hope the Giants can beat the Eagles (8-8) at MetLife Stadium. Both games start at 4:25 p.m. ET. If the Cowboys and Eagles finish in an 8-8 tie, Dallas would win the division based on a better record in the NFC East.
DeMarcus Lawrence's message to his teammates following this loss: “Don’t fold. Everyone is gonna want to divide us. Don’t fold. We’re going out to play this last game and we’re gonna win this m----f----!”
It's worth a try. But it's a long shot and, quite frankly, the Cowboys haven't earned it and don't deserve it.