"There were times where we had some real highlights out there,'' Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, in part, as he mourned Dallas' 28-7 loss at Green Bay, a Sunday embarrassment that really should've marked the elimination of this team's remote chances in the NFL playoff race ...
But does not.
It's not a "race'' in the NFC East, really. It's four fat guys sharing a treadmill. It's not a "hunt'' in the NFC East, really ... because every time one of these clubs take aim, all they shoot is their own foot.
But Dallas is at the bottom of this ignominous pile, a team that presently cannot cover, tackle or takeaway, a team that cannot block, throw, catch or run ... and don't let the stats from Green Bay fool you: What few things were accomplished are anomalies; if you can occasionally run for 50 yards but cannot consistently run for one yard ...
You cannot run.
"We have to continue to keep on fighting,'' Dez Bryant told me after a game in which he seemed to be trying to catch balls while wearing boxing gloves. "We have to. We can't just throw it in the bag. There can't be no quit."
No, they will not "quit.'' (Watch La'el Collins, above, sprint to the second level and then to the infinite level and have some faith in this team's heart.) They will not "tank,'' for as Barry Church told me, "that's something the fans can think about. Not one guy in here thinks that way.''
But they are aware of the standings, the odds, and the impending death of the 2015 Cowboys. We are seeing my predicted "Organic Tanking'' unfold now, with smart Cowboys watchers now spending more time trying to figure out if Dallas can get a top-five pick in the 2016 NFL Draft than in thinking it can sweep the Jets, the Bills and the Redskins to close this dismal season.
With the help of our man Tim Yotter, the NFL Playoff Picture:
The Carolina Panthers became the second team to clinch a playoff spot. The Arizona Cardinals did the same on Thursday with their win over the Minnesota Vikings, then the Panthers did it with a resounding 38-0 win over the Atlanta Falcons to remain undefeated, and the New England Patriots became the third team to secure a playoff spot in a 27-6 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday night.
The Panthers are the only team that has clinched a first-round playoff bye and they are the eighth team to start a season 13-0. Of the previous seven to start 13-0, all of them made the playoffs, five of them advanced to the Super Bowl and three of them won the Super Bowl.
The Cardinals are currently sitting with a two-game lead over the third-place Green Bay Packers in the NFC race with two other teams, the Seattle Seahawks and Vikings, at 8-5 and looking as strong possibilities to secure a playoff spot in NFC.
In the AFC, the Patriots’ win, combined with losses by the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals, moved New England from the projected No. 3 seed in the AFC to the top spot with a one-game advantage at 11-2. However, the Broncos, who lost to the Oakland Raiders, have beaten the Patriots so they would own a tiebreaker advantage over them.
Here is how the standings currently sit in both conferences:
- New England Patriots (11-2)
- Cincinnati Bengals (10-3)
- Denver Broncos (10-3)
- Indianapolis Colts (6-7)
- Kansas City Chiefs (8-5)
- New York Jets (8-5)
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)
Oakland Raiders (6-7)
Buffalo Bills (6-7)
Houston Texans (6-7)
Miami Dolphins (5-7)
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8)
- Carolina Panthers (13-0)
- Arizona Cardinals (11-2)
- Green Bay Packers (9-4)
- Washington Redskins (6-7)
- Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
- Minnesota Vikings (8-5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7)
Atlanta Falcons (6-7)
Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
New York Giants (5-7)
St. Louis Rams (5-8)
Chicago Bears (5-8)
New Orleans Saints (5-8)
Dallas Cowboys (4-9)
Yes, "needing help.'' All the other teams have been eliminated (the Giants and Dolphins play on Monday night). The Cowboys have not been, and "getting hot'' won't be good enough. Win out, tiebreakers, other teams winning in other cities in precisely the right way ... But nah. The patient doesn't even seem like it's on life support anymore. The last rites are ready to be read. The obituaries are being written.
“The game was sobering,” Jones said. “We’ve got more work to do than just getting Romo healthy. And I’m not just saying that to be magnanimous here for everybody. We’ve got a lot of work.”
That work is so the 2016 Dallas Cowboys can live. The work on the 2015 Dallas Cowboys amounts to simply administering them a toe tag.