DALLAS - Let's get this out of the way now.
This isn't going to be a nice article filled with sunshine, rainbows and a promise of a Super Bowl. No. Instead, we're going to hit on all of the Dallas Cowboys' shortcomings this season — from offense to defense, injuries and coaching, they've all played a role in why Dallas won't be playing football come January.
Going into Thursday's game with the Chargers, Dallas had an outside chance at best at sneaking into the playoffs. But after the Cowboys' turkey day loss to Los Angeles, there's no sense in clinging to hope that doesn't exist. Dallas has problems in virtually every phase of the game.
An offense that was supposed to be good enough to weather the storm without Ezekiel Elliott has shown that clearly isn't the case. In three games without Elliott, the Cowboys have averaged 7.3 points per game. Dallas has scored two touchdowns in three games. Dak Prescott has thrown five interceptions. Receivers aren't getting open, and when they are, Prescott isn't finding them.
What was touted as the best offensive line in football has regressed due in large part to injuries and position turnover. Tyron Smith can't seem to stay healthy, and has battled a bad back and groin all year. Zack Martin left last week's game with a concussion. La'el Collins and Jonathan Cooper have been serviceable, but not great.
Look no further than Dallas' offensive numbers.
In 2016, the Cowboys were fifth in the NFL in total offense, led the league in rushing yards and averaged 6.0 yards per play. This season, Dallas is 16th in total offense and averaging 5.3 yards per play.
Most of those numbers come pre-Elliott suspension, as well. To say the Cowboys have been exposed offensively is an understatement. Sure it hurts to not have the NFL rushing leader from a season ago, but with a quarterback who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Jason Witten and three Pro Bowl offensive linemen, the drop off should not be this noticeable.
Defensively, it starts in the secondary. After letting Barry Church, Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr and J.J. Wilcox walk in free agency, the Cowboys have paid the price. Dallas is 22nd in the NFL in passing yards per game, with opponents averaging 235.7 yards through the air.
Clearly, the youth movement isn't working yet.
And the Cowboys haven't been much better against the run, either. Dallas has allowed three 100-yard rushers this season, and opponents are averaging 112.5 yards on the ground. Some of these struggles can be attributed to the absence of Sean Lee, but certainly not all of them.
As for Jason Garrett and the coaching staff? Well, they've been less-than-spectacular, too. Jerry Jones has already gone to bat for them once, but if the Cowboys keep losing by lopsided, 20-point margins, you have to wonder just how long of a leash they have.
Sure there are five games remaining, and sure they haven't been mathematically eliminated, but much like the turkey you probably consumed on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys are underwhelming, bland and done.
Are you ready to give up on this season or do you believe the Cowboys can still turn it around? Share your thoughts with Reece on Twitter @ReeceWaddell.
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