When you lose three consecutive games by 20 points or more and can point to massive breakdowns on both sides of the ball, frustration will abound.
And so it is with the Dallas Cowboys (5-6), who have been outscored 92-22 in losses to the Atlanta Falcons, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Chargers and now find themselves outside of the playoff chase with five games to go.
The players are frustrated with the coaches and coaches are frustrated with the players.
But they are all working to get things fixed heading Thursday’s game against the Washington Redskins.
Another loss would all but eliminate them from the playoffs. A win would keep their faltering hopes alive for another week.
Tight end Jason Witten said no one has quit on coach Jason Garrett and his message is still resonating in the locker room.
“He does a really good job of communicating with the players, kind of talking about what the formula looks like and the winning formula,” Witten said. “Certainly have a lot of confidence in him as our head coach. Nobody in this locker room has quit or approached it that way of tuning out the coaches or anything like that. That’s not the case at all.”
Too much exposure?
One year after having the finest rookie season of any quarterback in NFL history, quarterback Dak Prescott is hearing talk of him being overrated and exposed.
He was named the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and then followed it up a strong start to the season with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions through the first eight games only to hit a wall after losing star running back Ezekiel Elliott to suspension.
Prescott has eight turnovers, including four interceptions in blowout losses the past three games after having eight and four, respectively in 16 games last year.
He has not passed for 200 yards in any of the past three contests that have also coincided with the absence of Elliott as the Cowboys have gone from 5-3 and in the thick of the playoff chase to 5-6 on the outside looking in.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said any talk of Prescott being exposed is an overreaction.
“I don’t think so,” Linehan said. “He’s a second-year player who’s hit, like a lot of players do in their career, I think you could probably pull up some guys who have played in their second year. I think that one thing that I told him the other day is you set such a high standard of unrealistic expectations in your first 24 games and it has nothing really to do with him being exposed.
“I think our team has to respond, all of us — coaches, players have to respond and adjust the way you’re playing when you play maybe a little different approach.
“That’s an overreaction to a little bit of a dry spell in my opinion.”
Linehan said Prescott’s dry spell is part of the maturation of any quarterback in the NFL as is the scrutiny. He said Prescott has accomplished a lot since coming to the Cowboys as a fourth-round pick last year and will continue to adjust and grow.
“I think you’re always learning as a quarterback, I think you’re recalibrating, re-setting all the time,” Linehan said. “Everybody’s going to change and adjust to how you’re playing or forced to play too. It’s all about making those adjustments as a player week to week or year to year; really, he’s a real young player in this league.”