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Dallas Cowboys in all kinds of trouble after humbling defeat

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It was a complete and utter humiliation for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday evening - even if the scoreline did them a few favours.

The 28-17 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers might as well have been 48-17, such was the dominance of their West Coast opponents.

It was a humiliation on the field and in the stands, as a 'significant percentage' of the 91,174 fans who packed 'The House that Jerry Built' wore 49er Red.

The invaders took no prisoners as Colin Kaepernick, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin battered the Cowboy defence in a one-sided first half.

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But, for all the pre-game talk about the shaky secondary and the potential for an historically bad defense, it was the Tony Romo-led offense that had to shoulder the burden at AT&T Stadium. 

As for Jerry, slumped in his executive box, at least he had someone he could blame. Turning to son Stephen, Director of Player Personal, you could imagine him barracking him once more for that decision to pass on Johnny Manziel. In case you missed it, Jerry wanted Johnny, but the Cowboys staff, led by Stephen, opted for guard Zach Martin.

And as Romo laboured through one of the worst performances of his professional career, Jerry could have been forgiven for rueing his decision to heed advice, to go against his gut.

A superb ESPN profile piece on the Cowboys owner revealed just how much he likes to gamble, to shoot first and ask questions later.

But three desperate INTs and that decision - no matter how smart it may look long-term - must hurt now, even as Johnny Football sits on a Cleveland bench.

Mediocrity in Texas 

Dallas have quite literally been stuck in mediocrity for three seasons, posting back-to-back-to-back 8-8 campaigns. While Jerry the gambler may hesitate at first, he'd surely take that again now having watched his side get taken apart here.

Unfortunately, 8-8 couldn't look further away.

This 49ers defense is not a patch on previous incarnations, missing Pro Bowlers at several key positions. It allowed Demarco Murray to rip through for 5.4 yards per carry.

Offensive woes

It still forced Romo into three picks, but two of them were eye-wateringly bad and all on the quarterback. It also stripped Murray on one of the first plays from scrimmage and returned it for a touchdown.

Dez Bryant was a shadow of the red-zone predator that consumed opponents whole last season. He was 'dehydrated' in the final quarter and missed several plays after getting drilled on a crossing route. It didn't look good for a receiver with a history of back problems.

And this is a major problem because everybody knew the defense was going to be bad. Cowboys fans were resigned to seeing their secondary carved up for 400 yards a game, they knew linebacker would be an issue after Sean Lee went down.

Morris Claiborne is their best cover guy.

But with Dez, Tony and Demarco plus Witten and Williams, Cowboys fans at least believed their offense would keep them in the shoot-outs.

Turns out it won't.

Crumbs of comfort

As mentioned, there were a few positives. Murray looked like the kind of back deserving of 20 carries a game and capable of putting up big numbers. He ran powerfully, with sharp cuts and an eye for the gap.

But too often that forward momentum was stopped short by questionable play-calling. The running game was humming but Scott Linehan doggedly dialled up the passes too.

"There is a lot of good stuff to look at on the tape," head coach Jason Garrett said after the game.

"A lot of stuff we have to clean up [too]."

The Cowboys put up more yards of offense than the 49ers, chalked up more first downs, had a better third down conversion rate and a better yards-per-rush.

But it lost the turnover battle 4-0. That will kill you every single time.

The offensive and defensive lines were not complete disasters either, in fact the defensive front overpowered a strong 49er line on several occasions to get to Colin Kaepernick.

A few nuggets of comfort for Garrett then, but his seat is getting seriously hot even as the Texas summer draws to a close. 

A look at the schedule

They face a trip to play a Tennessee Titans team next that was surprisingly efficient in its victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. That would have been earmarked with a 'W' before the season. Now it looks less clear cut.

A trip to St Louis after that could be their best bet for a first win of the season, as the Rams looked even worse in their dismantling at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings.

Garrett might not get that far of course. 

The one thing Jerry Jones fears above all else is irrelevance. That was the driving factor behind his Manziel trigger itch.

Well, on the evidence of last night, this Cowboys team is drifting backwards, heading for the wilderness.

It might not become relevant again until 2015 NFL draft season.

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Topics:
NFC
Dallas Cowboys
San Francisco 49ers
NFL

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