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Eatman: Using the 5 Ws to Figure Out The 5 Ws


We've heard it all the way back since elementary school. You can pretty much solve every problem in the world by figuring out the five Ws.

Tell me who, tell me what, tell me when, tell me where and tell me why. And yeah, there's the "how" part that was added a little later into the equation that seems important, too.

But that doesn't really fit into my narrative here, especially with the Cowboys having just five wins, so I'm going to stick with the 5 W's for now.

And mainly, it's the last one that we just don't have figured out.

We all know who – it's this football team that we so desperately want to see succeed. They just haven't been able to do that in over two decades.

We all know what – it's this rollercoaster of a 2019 season that is already giving us a nice mix of thrills and nausea, the way those rides typically do.

We all know when – yeah, it's every dang Sunday, although there has been a Monday and there's about to be two Thursdays.

As for the where – oh, it's been everywhere from California to Hawaii to the East Coast in Washington D.C., to the south in New Orleans and then back up to the east in the Meadowlands twice, all wrapped around bi-monthly stops to Arlington. That's one thing that hasn't really mattered, the location.

But here's the tricky one – why?

Just why are the Cowboys 5-4? Why is this football team only tied for first place in the NFC East with the Eagles, the team they completely dismantled a few weeks back by 27 points, the largest margin of victory over Philly in 36 years?

And to think that game occurred seven days after losing to the Jets, a team that is in the middle of a fight for the No. 1 overall pick next year.

Just go back to the start of the season and think about how you might react if you heard this after nine games:

  • The Cowboys would have the No. 1 ranked offense in the NFL, averaging 437.4 yards per game.
  • The Cowboys would rank sixth in total scoring, averaging 27.9 points.
  • The Cowboys would rank seventh in total defense, allowing only 323.2 yards per game.
  • And when it comes to keeping teams from scoring, the Cowboys would rank seventh, allowing just 18.9 points per game.

If you heard all of that, you'd feel pretty good about the Cowboys' chances of being 7-2, maybe even 8-1. But no, it's a 5-4 football team with still the toughest part of the schedule to play, with games at Detroit, New England, Chicago and Philadelphia, and home games against playoff-contenders Buffalo and the L.A. Rams, before the season-finale with Washington.


Oh, I'm sure many of you are throwing out "coaching" as a good excuse. Not saying you'd be completely wrong, but then again, it's the very reason people say it. It's hard to prove. It's also the same reason why fans love to blame things like "leadership" and "chemistry" as reasons a team struggles. Sounds good, but it can't be proven, especially from us on the outside of the locker room.

Not saying those things aren't factors. It's just hard to pinpoint as specific answers to this team's problems.

Going back to coaching, I do think Jason Garrett and his staff have to be blamed for the way the Cowboys have started most of these nine games. Other than the Eagles win, this team has struggled out of the gate in just about every other game. Yeah, you can catch up on the Giants (twice) and Redskins and Dolphins, but it clearly doesn't work against some of the other teams. All this energy it takes to get back in the game sometimes makes it even harder to get over the hump.

Yeah, credit the Cowboys for making adjustments and getting themselves back in the game, but why does have it to go there every single week?

We're all looking for answers about this team? I get asked all the time why the Cowboys aren't as good as we thought. For those that routinely watch our podcast, "Cowboys Break," you probably heard me this week give my thoughts on the very reason this team isn't getting the job done.

They're good. They're talented. But they're just not clutch.

It's not a clutch football team right now that has proven it can get the job done in the fourth quarter. Think about it, all five wins have been by an average of 19.8 points. The Cowboys have not trailed in the second half of any of the five victories so far.

That means Dak Prescott is one of just a handful of starting quarterbacks in the NFL that does not have a fourth-quarter comeback this season. OK, we know why Tom Brady doesn't have one, but for a quarterback of a 5-4 team, you would think Prescott would have one. He doesn't have a second-half comeback, which isn't even a regular stat.

Now, the weird thing is Philly's Carson Wentz is also 5-4 and doesn't have a fourth-quarter comeback either. So maybe the jury is out on the Eagles being a clutch team as well.

But I know when I think about what the Cowboys have done this year, they just haven't made those plays in the final minutes that were needed.

In New Orleans, the Cowboys had to drive down the field to get a field goal but couldn't. A sack here, a penalty there and they ran out of time.

Against the Packers, they lost that game way early on, but even in the final minutes when a chip-shot field goal was needed to cut the lead to 7, Brett Maher couldn't make it.

Against the Jets the next week, another slow start had the team scrambling. And just when it looked like they had clawed all the way back, all they needed was a two-point conversion to tie the game. But they couldn't do it.

Same thing happened against the Vikings. They drove nearly the entire field but down at the 11-yard line, they couldn't score and punch it in.

This team is good, but they haven't been clutch.

That's the best reason I've got as to "why" this team is just 5-4.