The Dallas Cowboys have to win out to match their win total from last season.
Going 11-0 the rest of the way would be a borderline miracle, but the Cowboys aren’t fretting their 2-3 start. They still feel all of their goals are within reach despite the less-than-promising start that has featured blowing two double-digit leads and getting embarrassed in Denver.
“There’s definitely no panic,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “We’re getting better. We’re heading in the direction we want to. We’ve just got to turn some of those close losses into wins and we’ll be right where we need to be.”
That’s the message throughout the locker room. Every player understands the sluggish start can be overcome.
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Safety Byron Jones pointed to the defense creating more takeaways after going three consecutive games without them. Right guard Zack Martin sees promise in the running game that looked like its 2016 version in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers.
Prescott himself feels he’s taking strides in the right direction in his second season. He’s completed 112 of 179 passes for 1,192 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions.
"I'm not comparing my play to last year," Prescott said. "It's a completely different me. It's a completely different team. Me individually and where this team is headed, we're going in the right direction. We're definitely getting better. When we're balanced and we're all doing our job, it's a lot [better]."
Again, there is no sense of panic in the Cowboys’ locker room. There is a sense of urgency, though, for wins.
“Listen, it’s early in the season,” Martin said. “A lot of teams are in the same kind of mix, so we’ve just got to focus on taking it week by week and stringing some games together.”
It starts Sunday against the winless San Francisco 49ers. The Cowboys can’t afford a loss to a rebuilding team with a rookie quarterback starting his first NFL game.