The low points of Sunday’s game were numerous. The Cowboys gave up a safety, an always embarrassing play somehow made even more embarrassing because it was the first score of the game for either team. In the end, Dallas managed just 3 points for the day, only the second time since 2004 it has been held to such a low total.
The Cowboys trailed in yards, 397-142, and first downs, 21-12. They were 3 for 12 on third-down conversions and 0 for 1 on fourth down, when they mysteriously called a passing play on fourth-and-1. Dalton was pressured and threw it incomplete by a considerable distance.
Dalton suffered much of the game from mediocre pass protection, a problem for Prescott before he was injured, too.
As for DiNucci, it’s hard to read much into his 2 of 3 for 39 passing yards cameo. Dalton is for now listed as questionable for Week 8 with a concussion. The next quarterback on the depth chart beyond DiNucci is Garrett Gilbert, who has played for the Patriots, Rams, Panthers and Browns, throwing a total of six passes.
A potential flash point in the misbegotten season is McCarthy, the former Green Bay head coach who many Packers fans still blame for Aaron Rodgers having won just one Super Bowl. Dallas hired him to coach over candidates that included Eric Bieniemy, the offensive coordinator of the Chiefs, who is often cited as a top candidate for a head coaching job. The decision to go with McCarthy was criticized at the time it was made, and the second-guessing is likely to increase.
But Dallas fans find themselves in a strange situation when it comes to the head coach as scapegoat. For years, anything that went wrong was blamed on Jason Garrett, now the Giants offensive coordinator, and fans celebrated his dismissal. Now they might need to acknowledge that the team’s problems are deeper.
Even at 2-5 the Cowboys still can win the woeful N.F.C. East. Indeed, they are only half a game behind the Eagles in a division which after seven weeks has produced just two wins against teams not in the N.F.C. East.
But to do so, the Cowboys will have to find a reasonable answer at quarterback, improve in a number of other areas, and at least mute the internal dissension. It remains to be seen if they can pull off that combination.