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Mailbag: Which player can step up and lead?


The Cowboys definitely have the talent, but when will they become a team? Which player is capable of stepping up and bringing this talented group of guys together to play as a TEAM?SJ Felix/Corona, CA

Nick Eatman: I'm sorry, but I don't really buy into this theory. There's always an in-between when it comes to success. No, they haven't made it to the NFC Championship Game or the Super Bowl. But that doesn't mean they haven't been a "team." This is a "team" that has won 12 games three straight years. That's pretty consistent in this NFL world where it's designed to have parity. I learned a long time ago that there are a few words such as "leadership" or "chemistry" or even "heart" that are just so easy to throw out there as excuses, but impossible to really define, especially from afar. That's not to dismiss the notion that those things can be problematic, but I just think they're used too much as an excuse or reason when a team doesn't win. To me, the real reason we haven't seen the Cowboys advance too far in the playoffs is that they aren't good enough. Sure, they've had good seasons but they've been beaten by better teams every time. That's what they have to fix – how to be better in the playoffs. If that happens, something tells me we'll be talking a lot more about the great "leadership" this team has developed.

Patrik: I've been in a lot of locker rooms and believe me when I tell you, what I witnessed last season in Dallas was one of, if not the, most cohesive brotherhood and team I've probably ever seen. So that, in and of itself, is not the issue at all. The problem, as I've identified it, isn't as simple as pointing at low-hanging fruit and saying, "Aha!". It's much more layered and elusive than that. Think about it. We're talking about a team that obliterated all comers at home in 2023, inclusive of an insane win streak at AT&T Stadium, only to then get obliterated by a lesser team on that same field when the game mattered most. Could you point at an issue with preparation? Probably. Could it have been the team (players) overlooking the opposition? Likely. Could it have been the fact the team (read: the defense) became so demoralized early that they mentally waved the white flag? Indubitably. And that brings me to your question of who is capable of stepping up to lead. The answer is everybody. Because that's how it has to be. Dak Prescott is that. DeMarcus Lawrence is that. Brandin Cooks is that. Ezekiel Elliott (now returned) is that. Malik Hooker is that. Leighton Vander Esch was that. I'd argue instead of asking a handful to take the lead, tell everyone on the roster to do it.

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