Gil LeBreton

Cowboys can’t play dumb about hopeless playoff chances

Cowboys backup quarterback Kellen Moore has spent four years preparing for his first NFL snap.
Cowboys backup quarterback Kellen Moore has spent four years preparing for his first NFL snap. Star-Telegram

Even if the logic is fuzzy, the math indeed is correct.

As Sunday’s NFL verdicts showed, the Dallas Cowboys remain in the NFC East playoff hunt. They are not yet algebraically eliminated.

Indeed, it is possible that the Eagles, Giants and Monday night’s opponent, the Redskins, may not win another game this season.

Pigs could also fly. Stand-in quarterback Matt Cassel may dial up the Wayback Machine to 2008 and become Tom Brady again.

But as the Cowboys try to overcome their bleak 3-8 ledger, it reminds me of that iconic Hollywood scene about overcoming odds.

Dumb and Dumber was the movie. (Insert your own Jerry Jones joke here).

Lloyd, the half-wit Jim Carrey character, has just asked the very beautiful Mary, played by Lauren Holly, “What are my chances?”

“Not good,” Mary answers.

“You mean ‘not good,’ like one out of a hundred?” Lloyd asks.

Mary responds, “I’d say more like one out of a million.”

To which Lloyd pauses for a few seconds and then replies, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance — yeah!!!”

This, more or less, is what’s been going on at Valley Ranch. Owner Jones and the gang have refused to publicly embrace the inevitable.

Coach Jason Garrett began last week by saying that he wanted his team to embrace the challenge.

“It’s part of our message to provide perspective,” Garrett said. “Oftentimes, you have to provide a perspective about where we are, where we want to go, and how we want to get there.”

In truth, however, the Cowboys are a lot closer to the No. 1 overall draft pick than this season’s Super Bowl. They should be evaluating young players, such as quarterback Kellen Moore, rather than hoping Cassel can reverse their fortunes.

When the Cowboys do win again — like, maybe, 2016 — will Cassel be a part of that success? So why is he scheduled to get all of the snaps Monday night?

Moore is no Tony Romo. But Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan thought enough of the ex-Boise State star to sign him as a free agent in 2012 when Linehan was with the Lions.

Moore is left-handed and, perhaps, at six-feet-zero-inches, may need a few phone books to see over center Travis Frederick’s rump. But Moore’s record was 50-3 in his four seasons as Boise State’s starting quarterback.

You don’t go 50-3 by just handing the ball off.

It’s been increasingly suggested that the Cowboys should just tank the rest of the season and play for the No. 1 draft pick. Owner Jones, however, at age 73, is too stubborn and desperate to deliberately flush one of his few remaining seasons.

Besides, what would Jerry do with that No. 1 overall draft pick but trade it away?

Jones’ team seems quite capable of finishing dead-last without any contrivances. If Washington wins Monday night, the Cowboys may not face a team with a losing record for the rest of the season.

Here’s some more math: Receiver Dez Bryant likely won’t be 100 percent for the rest of the season, and it shows. The subtraction of DeMarco Murray has not been balanced by the running of Darren McFadden. The offensive line, for whatever reason, has not performed to its lofty preseason expectations.

The data supports all of this. They are 3-8 and own the worst record in the NFC.

Even amid the close defeats, the Cowboys have failed to establish themselves as one of the conference’s top-tier teams. Should they embark on a golden sprint to the finish, they might have to go on the road in the playoffs with Cassel and try to beat the likes of Carolina, Green Bay and Arizona.

So you’re saying there’s a chance?

Calm down, Lloyd. Not really.

Time to embrace the perspective.

Gil LeBreton: 817-390-7697, glebreton, @gilebreton

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