ARLINGTON, Texas – Mike McCarthy is seeing a pattern with the Dallas Cowboys after four games, and he doesn't like it one bit.
Moreover, he doesn't see a path for success if it continues.
The Cowboys are 1-3 for the first time in 10 years and would be facing 0-4 if not for a near-impossible onside kick recovery and last-second field goal in a Sept. 20 comeback win over Atlanta.
Sunday's 49-38 loss to the Cleveland Browns followed a track similar to the first three weeks of the season.
"We need to play better complementary football. Right now it's not happening," McCarthy said. "It hasn't happened in any of the four games."
Yes, the Cowboys are giving up far too many points on defense: a franchise-record 146 through the first four games of a season. Big passing plays were a problem in Weeks 2 and 3 against Atlanta and Seattle and on the Browns' opening touchdown drive: a 37-yard trick-play pass from receiver Jarvis Landry to receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Big run plays were the main problem Sunday. Cleveland racked up 307 yards on the ground, the most ever against a Cowboys defense.
All that said, the defense isn't getting enough help from the offense. The Cowboys have posted video-game numbers in yardage and points the last three games. They also have a league-high nine turnovers that have led to 45 points by opponents, including back-to-back fumbles in the first half Sunday that led to two Browns touchdowns. Conversely, the defense has two takeaways this season (none Sunday) leading to three points.
For the third straight game, the Cowboys found themselves in catch-up, pass-first mode in the second half, trailing by as many as 27 points in the fourth quarter after a 34-0 Browns run.
"It's unacceptable," McCarthy said of the Cowboys' minus-7 turnover margin, tied for worst in the league. "It will not be the identity of this football team. It can't be. Until we all get on the same page and get that part corrected, we're going to be a no-huddle offense for a quarter and a half."
The first-year Cowboys head coach gave his team credit for fighting back and cutting Cleveland's lead to three points in the final four minutes, before Beckham ended the comeback with a 50-yard reverse run for a touchdown. McCarthy also took full responsibility for the team's recurring struggles.
"We need to do a better job bringing our preparation to the performance, and that starts with me," he said. "When your team performs and makes similar mistakes, four weeks is a pattern. This pattern needs to stop. And that starts with leadership."
But he made clear that it has to get fixed. In a hurry.
"What I don't like is I don't like the pattern of the four games that we've played," he said. "The points are outrageous. The time of possession is totally lopsided and we're minus-7 in the turnover ratio. That's not a winning formula."
The Cowboys are back at AT&T Stadium next Sunday, October 11th to take on their rivals, the New York Giants. A limited number of tickets are on sale now. Get yours now before they sell out!
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