When Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says this, he could be alluding to any number of factors that lead to losses in pro football – and at 2-4, his team has been influenced by all of them. Injuries. Poor coaching. Poor play. Bad luck. Whatever.
But “going uphill” at the onset of games is what Jerry is talking about here – “going uphill” meaning early turnovers that lead to early deficits that lead to blowout scores like Monday’s 38-10 loss to Arizona.
“We’re putting ourself at a disadvantage, and I do recognize that when you put yourself in the hole in the NFL like that, then you’re playing catch-up and you’re going uphill,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday. “We did not overcome adversity. We can’t play and win any games and create that kind of edge for a team giving us that much adversity and giving them that kind of encouragement early in the ballgames. That’s a death sentence in the NFL.”
Here are the two most illustrative numbers in this regard:
One, the Dallas Cowboys are minus-12 in turnover margin. That’s an almost-impossible number to achieve through six games, and as proof I’ll offer that the two teams tied for 31st-worst in the NFL are at minus-7 – meaning Dallas is almost twice as bad as horrible.
Indeed, Dallas is flirted with history here. Minus-12 is a franchise-worst through six games, except for 1960, when the brand-new expansion team was minus-15.
Two, once the turnovers occur (and while the takeaways do not), the Dallas defense, often with the field tilted against them, allows the scoring floodgates to open. It happened against the Cardinals, who scored 24 points off turnovers. But it happens most every week.
Just counting the four home games, Dallas has been behind early in each game by lopsided scores: The Cowboys trailed 21-3 here, trailed 29-10 against Atlanta, trailed 31-14 to Cleveland and trailed 17-3 to the Giants.
Given that Dallas was offered a schedule edge with four of the first six games at home – and a COVID-era crowd allowed at AT&T Stadium to boot – those numbers represent astounding ineptitude.
And there’s more.
The Dallas Cowboys have allowed 218 points so far, an NFL-worst. But it gets crummier than that. Those 218 points are the most allowed by any team in the first six games in the modern (starting with the 1966 Super Bowl) era.
The Cowboys are also the fifth team in NFL history to give up 34 points in five straight games. Do it again Sunday at Washington and the Cowboys will hold the record all for themselves.
Jerry essentially provided his coaching staff a vote of confidence on Tuesday morning, saying of head coach Mike McCarthy, “He won a Super Bowl,” and adding regarding the defensive coordinator, “I’m OK with Mike Nolan. I am.”
OK. But … Give up the ball at a record pace, and then let the opponents score at a record pace?
“That’s a death sentence in the NFL.”