Dallas Cowboys

Coaching turnover? Cowboys players trust staff, feel team is close to contending

Count wide receiver Terrance Williams among the players who feel the Dallas Cowboys aren’t far off from contending again for a championship.

Williams echoed the sentiments of Jason Witten, Sean Lee and Ezekiel Elliott after Sunday’s 6-0 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles that ended a disappointing 2017 season.

And Williams sees no reason for the organization to make drastic changes such as firing offensive coordinator Scott Linehan or coach Jason Garrett.

“We just didn’t get it done. It had nothing to do with Scott. It had nothing to do with coach Garrett,” Williams said on Monday as players cleaned out their lockers. “I’ve been in this system for five years and it did me well. We have guys who can stand here and say, ‘We didn’t get the job done.’ Plain and simple as that. We just didn’t get it done.

“Scott called great plays. Coach Garrett called great plays. They put us in situations to make plays. We didn’t get the job done. So now we have to sit at home and watch and get better for next year.”

Williams and quarterback Dak Prescott have been among the most vocal in support of Linehan in recent days, although his job status remains in question. The players, of course, don’t make that decision.

Garrett is safe, as owner Jerry Jones has vouched to stay with him going into 2018. But Linehan has received plenty of criticism for an offensive unit that took a step back this season.

The Cowboys had the 14th-ranked offense – both in yards and scoring – compared to being ranked fifth in each category a season ago.

The Cowboys also struggled to adjust when Elliott started serving his six-game suspension. The offense failed to produce at least 10 points in three consecutive games, the worst stretch of futility in franchise history.

Several players had down years, too, including Williams. He had no touchdown receptions for the first time in his career, and had a career-low in receiving yards (568).

Fellow receiver Cole Beasley saw his production more than cut in half, and Dez Bryant went a third straight season without 1,000 yards.

But Williams refused to blame Linehan for the offense’s shortcomings.

“It’s not him. His system fits us right,” Williams said. “Y’all seen his numbers when he went to Detroit. It’s not him. I hate to blame … when people say, ‘It’s all the coaches fault.’ They just call the plays, we’re the guys out there that have got to make the play happen.

“I’m not the one to sit here and say it’s the scheme because I’ve been in this game five years. It’s done me well when you do it right. It’s just some games we didn’t do it right.

“We all just have to stare in the mirror and say, ‘Hey, we didn’t get our job done.’ It can’t be no finger pointing because that’s how bad teams and freaking losers start – when you start getting in circles and talking about folks.”

As Williams said, the Cowboys aren’t too far off. In fact, a pair of 9-7 teams made the playoffs in the AFC this season. Last season, two 9-7 teams also made it into the postseason.

But changes are bound to happen after a season that started with Super Bowl expectations ended without even a playoff berth.

Linehan could be the most significant change and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s job status isn’t known yet either.

At the very least, there will be turnover among the assistants. Quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, wide receivers coach Derek Dooley, running backs coach Gary Brown, linebackers coach Matt Eberflus and secondary coach Joe Baker are on expiring contracts.

Tight ends coach Steve Loney turns 66 in April and could retire.

Again, though, the players expressed confidence in the coaching staff and optimism going into 2018.

“I don’t think we’re that far away,” Lee said after the finale. “I think we showed last year the type of team we are. I thought this year we have to get back to being that type of team that wins close games, that makes big plays in clutch situations.

“We know if we play right, we can be a team that should be competing in the playoffs every year for a championship.”

Briefly

The Cowboys signed the following players to the reserve/future list on Monday: WRs Brian Brown and K.D. Cannon; offensive tackle Jarron Jones; defensive backs Jameill Showers and Marquez White; running back Trey Williams; and defensive tackle Joe Vellano.

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