Brutal Truth Now Facing These Cowboys

playing for the Cowboys when they are considered front-running favorites, even if they didn't win the Super Bowl last year: No matter who they play from this day forward, be they 4-3 or 7-0, or have played since Sept. 7, they are going to get everybody's best shot because of perception, Hard Knocks exposure and smothering ESPN attention.

"And as a team," Spears reasoned, "we need to start understanding that - every time out. St. Louis hadn't looked that good since they were in the Super Bowl.

"We got to realize people are gunning for us. They are trying to beat us to death and we go out with the mentality that we just got to win."

Back in the day, this had been the case, and many times there was this Cowboys hangover for clubs following a victory of those dastardly Tom Landry guys. I mean, look what Washington has done since that huge victory over the Cowboys: They beat the Eagles by six, OK, but lost to the Rams by two and beat the Browns by a whopping 14-11.

The Cardinals, maybe they were lucky. They had a bye Sunday, but must play at Carolina next Sunday. The Rams, they get New England on the road. We'll see.

Again, these are not excuses for the Cowboys playing as poorly as they did in St. Louis, and believe me, they played poorly, worse than they did against Washington or Cincinnati but not much different than they did the previous Sunday in Arizona, which is the most troubling part of this whole mess.

So you know, maybe it's not all this other rhetoric being spewed for what's wrong with the Cowboys. You know what I'm talking about, the lack of motivation, the lack of intensity, the lack of accountability, the lack of leadership, the lack of urgency.

Or now the popular theory circulating and gaining legs, the lack of coaching, Wade Phillips under heavy fire and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones having to deflect and defend at every public appearance, including even Monday's conference call to unveil his newest venture, Legends, the company formed to handle food services at the new Cowboys Stadium, in conjunction with the New York Yankees and Goldman Sachs.

So Jones said exactly what he said following the St. Louis loss Sunday afternoon, "Absolutely, he's going to finish the season. That isn't even a remote consideration."

See there, he's being held to a 13-3 standard, meaning even Bill Parcells' 10-6 best, by the way, won't do.

Over the years I've seen this happen in sports, a team rises above what it might be then it is held to that standard, no matter what, not even injuries withstanding. And I sense this is about to happen at my alma mater, a struggling football school for so long, but by simply beating who they should have beaten last year and early this year, causing them to creep one victory away from being ranked No. 1 both times yet far above their means, Missouri football fans now are disgruntled with the head coach, the very man who put this program back on its feet following an abysmal 20-some years, after getting their drawers blown off this past Saturday by an infinitely more talented Texas team.

Be careful what you wish for. The past is always closer than you think.

Now the Cowboys are saying all the right things, how they have to work harder, how they have to execute better, how they have to channel all their energy into preparing for football games, how they have to be more disciplined. What, they just figured that out?

And Wade Phillips is doing what most coaches do when sensing a crisis, just as he did last week by doubling up on the special teams attention. He says he will change things up, probably on how the team goes about its day, how the Cowboys practice, how much and hard they practice and maybe a slight personnel change, because let's face it, when you only have 53 guys on the team, and basically nine couldn't play this past Sunday because of injury - including your quarterback - there isn't much change you can make. This ain't high school and sure as hell isn't college.

Now you'd like to say things will be different come Sunday, but look, they are playing the 5-2, tied-for-first-place Tamp Bay Buccaneers, and let me give

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