Tallying Up the Damage

A season that began with a Super Bowl or bust destination has ended with the Cowboys not making the playoffs.

It is essentially the most disappointing and underachieving season in franchise history.

Never had been more expected of a team that accomplished so little.

Owner Jerry Jones spent $135 million in offseason signing bonuses and guaranteed money to ensure a Super Bowl run this season after the Cowboys' 13-3 season last year was one and done in the playoffs.

Jones signed offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to a $3 million annual contract and they traded three draft picks for wide receiver Roy Williams.

Now Jones is talking about taking everybody to the woodshed following a no-show performance in the season finale against the Eagles.

With a winner-take-all spot as the last playoff team on the line, the Cowboys didn't even come out to fight, losing 44-6.

The Cowboys finished 9-7 one year after going 13-3 in the regular season. Coach Wade Phillips has now guided the Cowboys to a 10-10 record after starting the 2007 season 12-1.

The Cowboys have taken a step back under Phillips. Yet Jones said there will be no coaching changes. He said continuity is the way to go and plans to keep the coaching staff intact.

What went right: The Cowboys had a strong draft class. Rookie running backs Felix Jones and Tashard Choice are keepers and should be strong producers for seasons to come. Tight end Martellus Bennett showed flashes as a nice complement to Jason Witten. Rookie cornerback Orlando Scandrick, a fifth-round pick, showed that he will eventually develop into a starter. He outplayed first-round pick Mike Jenkins.

Defensively, the Cowboys got great performances from linebacker DeMarcus Ware,

who led the league with 20 sacks, just 2.5 short of the league record, nose tackle Jay Ratliff, who made his first Pro Bowl, and middle linebacker Bradie James had 195 tackles and seven sacks.

What went wrong: Let us count the ways. Injuries top the list as the Cowboys lost safety Roy Williams, rookie running back Felix Jones and guard Kyle Kosier for the season. They also lost quarterback Tony Romo for three games, which resulted in two losses that might have made a difference in the season.

Cornerback Terence Newman missed six games with a hernia to severely hamper the defense.

There was the failed experiment with Adam "Pacman" Jones, who was suspended for six games after being reinstated following his 2007 season-long suspension.

But the biggest disconnect was on offense, where the Cowboys' attack misfired all season. The Cowboys never unveiled the explosive big-play attack they had in 2007.

Wider receiver Terrell Owens blamed offensive coordinator Jason Garrett for not being able to adjust as teams had adjusted to the Cowboys.

Even Romo blamed Garrett at the end of the season, saying the offense and its protections got exposed.

The midseason trade for Williams didn't help either as he was never a factor, catching only 19 passes and scoring one touchdown.

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