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Jerry Jones: Cowboys' issues deeper than Tony Romo's absence

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With three games to go and a 4-9 record, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones won't say the season is over just yet.

The Cowboys' chances of winning the NFC East are slim, but Jones is going with the puncher's chance of a late-season knockout, even if the Cowboys have lost nine of the first 13 rounds.

"As hard as these guys physically work, as hard as they're called on to work, with some promise, some slim promise, I wouldn't dare impact that with any assessment of are we through or not," Jones said after the Cowboys lost 28-7 to the Green Bay Packers. "I just wouldn't do it. I don't have the right to do that."

But Jones knows the chances are slim.

The Cowboys' season went off track when Tony Romo suffered a broken left collarbone in the third quarter of the team's Week 2 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys have won one game without Romo, who suffered a hairline fracture of the same collarbone in his team's Thanksgiving loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Jones, however, thinks the Cowboys' record goes deeper than the losses of Romo and Dez Bryant, who suffered a broken right foot in the season opener and missed five games.

The Cowboys entered the season with Super Bowl hopes, which were hinged mostly to Romo's twice surgically repaired back. They are now guaranteed their first losing season since 2010 and are all but guaranteed to not make the playoffs. Even with a healthy Romo, Jones can't put the Cowboys with the NFC's elite.

"Because we've got more work to do than just getting Romo healthy, and I'm not just saying that to be magnanimous here for everybody," Jones said. "We've got a lot of work. I want you to know there are some things that we have to do better. For us to have a healthy Romo and have an effective Dez Bryant, there's some things we've got to really address and do better as we look over these last three games and into the future."

Jones has pointed to his decision to open the year with Brandon Weeden as the backup to Romo as a mistake. However, Weeden was just 0-3 as the starter and did not have Bryant or a healthy running game. Matt Cassel is now 1-8 as the starter.

Jones said it is "inexplicable" that the Cowboys have not been able to force a takeaway in eight of 13 games. The Cowboys ran for 171 yards Sunday but have not been consistently able to run the ball. The passing game has disappeared as well, as the Cowboys have scored one or zero offensive touchdowns in seven games this season.

The Cowboys' season was billed as Super Bowl or bust after a 12-4 finish a year ago and a controversial loss to the Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs in January. The Cowboys let DeMarco Murray go but signed the best pass-rusher in free agency in Greg Hardy. They welcomed back Sean Lee, who missed last year with a knee injury. They had what looked to be a productive draft. Yet with three games to go, Dallas is a loss away from the worst record in the NFL.

"It was a combination of things, and I contribute a lot -- a lot -- to find ourselves in this shape," Jones said. "So we've got to, everybody, really take a good, hard look at how we can improve it. This is absolutely not to be laid on reason, laid on the feet of losing Romo, having Bryant really out in preparation for really a lot of the first part because of his injury. It shouldn't be that at all. There's a lot of things that don't have us in position to take advantage."