FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys woke up Tuesday in first place in the NFC East, despite a 2-4 record following their 38-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
That is not enough to make even the eternal optimist, owner and general manager Jerry Jones, truly happy.
“I’m not in a feel-good mood, frankly, that we’ve got manna from heaven being in the East,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. “These things have a way of evening out as you go along. Certainly, the NFC East is having its challenges now. … When you’re not playing better than we are, it’s hard for me to basically look at the end game, which is win the East, and get excited that we’re better. [That] ‘we may be slow, but we’re ahead of you’ syndrome. We’ve got to get better to have the kind of season that makes sense for us.”
Dallas remains ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles (1-4-1), New York Giants (1-5) and Washington Football Team (1-5) in the woeful NFC East. The Cowboys’ next two games are against divisional rivals — at Washington on Sunday, followed by a trip to Philadelphia on Nov. 1.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Cowboys are the first team with a losing record to lead a division through Week 6 since the 1970 merger between the NFL and AFL. The 2015 Indianapolis Colts and the 1984 Pittsburgh Steelers led their divisions with 3-3 records through six weeks.
Despite the frustrations, Jones believes in the roster, head coach Mike McCarthy — who has a 13-20-1 record in his past 34 games — and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, whose unit is on pace to allow an NFL-record 581 points.
“What I do feel good about with the entire group is our ability,” Jones said. “We do have the ability, and we have the talent to make adjustments with the personnel we have. We just haven’t done it. We will not have success until we take our personnel we got today and put it out there not giving ourselves a big hole to dig out of.”
The Cowboys have a league-worst minus-12 turnover ratio. Their 15 turnovers are the most through six games since 1960, when they were minus-15 in the inaugural year of the franchise. The Cowboys allowed 24 points off four turnovers in the loss to the Cardinals and have given up 84 points off turnovers this season.
The Cowboys have lost quarterback Dak Prescott (ankle), left tackle Tyron Smith (neck), right tackle La’el Collins and tight end Blake Jarwin (knee) for the season due to injuries. They lost projected starting defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to a torn quadriceps in the first padded practice, and his replacement, Trysten Hill, to a torn ACL in Week 5 against the Giants.
Five other starters have been on injured reserve and returned or are in the process of potentially returning from injury. Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin suffered a concussion in the first quarter Monday night against Arizona and did not return.
“We are dramatically different personnel-wise than we were in what we anticipated having,” Jones said. “I don’t need to go down through the list, but it’s a big one. Other teams in the NFL have dramatic personnel changes and it has impacted their record, but that is our game. That’s what we do.
“Availability is right there with ability when it comes to personnel. So the next question is, ‘OK, but what do you do?’ You adjust and you play with the personnel you got. You put your defensive plans in and offensive plans in, and you adjust accordingly.”
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