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Mailbag: Where Is The Championship Window?

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Ever the optimists, I'll bet everyone in the Cowboys organization, including all you media types and us fans, always feel that we're a player or two away from competing for a Super Bowl every year, even during the early 2000's and 2010's. That said, with a 6-6 record, are we closer to winning it all in a couple years, or blowing it all up and starting over? - GARET TANAKA / WAILUKU, HI

Rob: I still believe this is one of the more talented young rosters in the league. It hasn’t won the close games it won last year. Now, on Thanksgiving they simply got outplayed from the second quarter on. Give credit to Buffalo. I don’t think we’ve grossly overjudged the talent here. More so, I think maybe we underestimate the talent on other teams. The margin for error is pretty thin week to week and when you don’t win the turnover battle and you don’t score inside the red zone and don’t make makeable field goals, it’s really hard to win consistently.

David: Given how disappointing this season has been so far, there seem to be a lot of people talking down on this team’s talent level. Obviously, we overestimated these guys coming out of training camp, but I’m not willing to back track on how talented they are. Look around the roster and ask yourself where the supposed deficiency is. They need a playmaker or two on the back end of the defense. They need to do something at defensive tackle. They need to upgrade the tight end position. But honestly, those are all minor quibbles in my eyes. The Cowboys have a good quarterback, a good offensive line and good skill players. For all their problems, their defense is top 10 in yards allowed and scoring defense. Nothing needs to be blown up. That’s what makes this season so frustrating. The talent level is better than this, but the players aren’t playing up to it — and the coaches aren’t doing enough to bring it out of them consistently.

I'm all for being aggressive, but it seems the Cowboys get too greedy when they get near the red zone and try to get touchdowns on big risky plays from too far out. Their entire offensive philosophy seems to change once they cross the 20. In the Buffalo game for example, they had a first-and-goal from the 9 and threw two passes to the back of the end zone even though it was clearly four-down territory. Why not try to get a few short-yardage plays and hammer it in instead of low percentage throws? - BO KNOWS / BLANDINSVILLE, IL

Rob: The scenario you mentioned (end of the third quarter) was a little bit of a double-edged sword because you’re down two scores, you’re trying to get back into the game quickly and Dak Prescott trusts his receivers to win on those routes. But no question the red zone has been an issue in their six losses. They’ve converted touchdowns on only 7 of 18 trips in those games (39 percent). Minus plays (penalties, sacks, tackles for loss) have hurt them down there, too.

David: This has been a problem going back years. Jason Garrett would probably tell you that field shrinks when a team gets to the red zone, and that makes it easier for a defense to key in. That makes sense, but sometimes I think the Cowboys outthink themselves a little bit. There’s also the part where it doesn’t seem like these guys ever plan multiple snaps ahead. That’s bitten them multiple times this season.

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