IRVING, Texas – Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones put it bluntly when he was asked about the Cowboys' performance in the trenches on Thanksgiving.
"On Thanksgiving, a lot of people thought that Philadelphia outplayed our fronts – and I'd say that was unexpected and shouldn't happen," Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan.
It's been covered plenty how much the offensive and defensive lines struggled against the Eagles last week. It was a rare occasion where the Cowboys could neither run the ball well, averaging 3.7 yards per carry, nor protect the quarterback – they allowed four sacks.
It's an area Jones said the Cowboys need to see improvement, not just Thursday in Chicago, but throughout the final month of the season.
"There's one of the points about last week – we didn't show to be that running, physical team that we had been in earlier parts of the season that we'd like think we are," he said. "We're a team that can do that in Chicago – it's a must if we're going to have anything like the kind of weather we had up there last year."
The defensive line failed to do much better, as they registered one sack and not much other pressure on Mark Sanchez and allowed 256 rushing yards. Despite that, Jones said the unit's overall health – the Cowboys currently have nine healthy linemen competing for eight positions – should help them in the final month.
"I think we're a different group altogether in that defensive front than we were this time last year – that's a plus," he said.
Of course, one of the biggest differences on that front is the absence of DeMarcus Ware. The Cowboys' all-time sack leader, now playing with Denver, recorded his 10th sack of the season on Sunday night – more than all of the Cowboys' current defensive ends combined.
"We don't have Ware, and that's a minus, but we do have overall more numbers of guys that are hungry as can be and certainly are frustrated about what happened to us Thanksgiving Day," Jones said.
Both units will need to improve their level of play from that 33-10 loss if the Cowboys are going to get over the hump in December. Thursday starts a stretch of three road games in the final four weeks – a challenge Jones said this team is ready for.
Despite the holiday setback, Jones said this year's group can handle the task – starting with a return to winning at the line of scrimmage.
"I think that we're not the same team, we have not prepared this team in the way we have other seasons," he said. "This team is built for the challenge we've got on the road, it's built namely because we're a physical, running team."