If you think the off-season following last year’s 8-8 campaign was uncomfortable, then consider the upcoming one if the Dallas Cowboys don’t somehow right the ship after Monday’s embarrassing 45-28 loss to the Chicago Bears.
The Cowboys probably need to sweep their final three games to make the playoffs.
The Cowboys (7-6) are one game behind the Philadelphia Eagles (8-5) in the race for the NFC East title and the playoffs after being in first place the majority of the season.
Owner Jerry Jones said he invested too much to miss the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.
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“Well, everything we’ve done this year, there’s been no next year for us,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “The things we’re doing, we’re doing within the maximum ability we have cap-wise, the maximum ability we have.
“I thought the adjustments we made in the off-season, [offensively] plus a healthy defense would really make a big impact positively for us. That hasn’t worked out, as of right now.”
One of the biggest changes the Cowboys made in the off-season last year was overhauling the defense — firing Rob Ryan and moving from the 3-4 to the 4-3 under new coordinator Monte Kiffin.
The Cowboys entered Monday’s game at Chicago ranked last in the league in defense and played that way.
The Cowboys offered little resistance as the Bears racked up 490 yards of offense and 33 first downs while scoring every time they had the ball before the kneel-down to end the game.
The Bears had 23 plays of 10 or more yards and backup quarterback Josh McCown, starting for the injured Jay Cutler, passed for 348 yards and accounted for five touchdowns (four passing, one running).
Jones and coach Jason Garrett said the defensive performance was unacceptable and indicated that changes needed to be made before Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.
But both also offered support and expressed confidence in Kiffin.
“We simply have to do a better job of getting stops and preventing them from scoring points,” Garrett said on his radio show on KRLD-FM Tuesday morning. “From an offensive standpoint, we have to do a better job of keeping up in a game like that.”
Under Kiffin, the Cowboys are allowing 426.8 yards per game and have given up 40 or more points in three games this season.
Yet, Jones said Kiffin is still the right man for the job.
“He’s just got the right attitude,” Jones said. “To be doing what we’re doing and to fix what we’re doing, there’s nobody I’d rather have than him and Rod Marinelli.
“[Kiffin] knows what’s happening to us better than anyone. If there are adjustments to be made, he’s the right man for the job.”
How do the Cowboys fix it?
They continue to be ravaged by injuries on defense and they have no plans to change coordinators or schemes.
Jones said it is time for the defense to change tactics and take more chances.
“I’ll assure you that we’ll be doing some different things against Green Bay. There’ll be a little different cast of players out here against Green Bay.”
Jones said he is not calling for a philosophy change or technique change on defense.
“We just need to take more risks. A more conservative approach like tonight, the results are going to be the same,” Jones said. “We’ve got to somehow try to get more turnovers.”
Garrett also indicated that maybe some tactical and personnel changes were in order.
After hosting Green Bay, Dallas plays at Washington then hosts the Eagles to end the regular season.
“We are certainly here at 7-6 and nobody’s grinning about that,” Jones said. “We do have the ability to step out here and put two or three games together, make some adjustments, ride that [Tony] Romo, ride that running game and maybe have a storybook finish.”
Cowboys’ defense by the numbers
426.8Yards per game allowed, worst in the NFL
298.5Passing yards per game allowed, worst in the NFL
26Passing touchdowns allowed, 31st (of 32) in the NFL
95.1Opponents’ passer rating, 24th in the NFL
27Sacks, 27th in the NFL
128.4Rushing yards per game allowed, 28th in the NFL
26.8Points per game allowed, 26th in the NFL