Cowboys sink to historic depths

ARLINGTON, Texas -- This wasn't the kind of history the Dallas Cowboys hoped to make this season.

Can you believe that the offseason hype was about the Cowboys possibly becoming the first team to play a Super Bowl on its home field? With the season not even to the midway mark, some Cowboys fans showed up at the $1.2 billion stadium wearing paper bags over their heads, and those weren't just cute Halloween costumes.

I apologize for even mentioning the Cowboys and Super Bowl in the same sentence. Owner/general manager Jerry Jones apologized for the misery Cowboys fans have had to endure while watching America's Team lose six of its first seven games.

"If you had told me that we'd be in this situation before the season started, I probably would have cussed you out," cornerback Terence Newman said after the mediocre Jacksonville Jaguars delivered a 35-17 butt-kicking Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. "But now it's reality and it's something that nobody can really comprehend."

Let's put it in really simple terms: A team that assumed it was destined for greatness will go down as the biggest disgrace in franchise history.

There have been worse Cowboys teams over the past half century. Eddie LeBaron and the boys went 0-11-1 in 1960. A 1-15 season welcomed Jones to the NFL in 1989.

But those teams weren't close to as disappointing and embarrassing as this bunch of millionaire misfits. The Cowboys were an expansion team during their winless season. They were a team in transition -- new coach, new owner, rookie quarterback -- when they took their lumps in the one-win campaign.

A couple of years ago, the Cowboys were epic underachievers, missing the playoffs after a whole lot of Super Bowl hype. That team flopped in Philadelphia with a playoff berth at stake and finished 9-7.

These Cowboys won't even have a chance to break their fans' hearts late in the season. This December will be dominated by discussion about who the Cowboys should draft with a top-five pick.

Heck, it's probably a safe bet that the Randol Mill Road neighbor Texas Rangers will win more games in the World Series than the Cowboys will all season.

Maybe the media is guilty of overhyping this team. OK, there's no maybe about it. That's definitely true. But the core remains intact from a team that won the NFC East title and sent a large contingent of players to the Pro Bowl. It's "mind-boggling," as defensive end Marcus Spears put it, that the team with the highest payroll in the NFL is this horrible.

"I have talented players and I'm not getting them to play well enough," said coach Wade Phillips, whose firing is just a matter of time at this point. "To me, that's the real problem."

Phillips fessed up to being "at a loss." Jones, who doesn't want to fire a coach in midseason for the first time during his tenure, admitted that he doesn't have any answers right now, either.

Why not fire Phillips before sundown? What's the point in keeping the captain of a sinking ship around after his defense was dominated twice in six days? Jerry said something about not having time to make a change, which isn't exactly a vote of confidence.

While Jones tries to figure out how to fix this mess, he just hopes fans forgive him.

"You couldn't get me to say it, but you know that I thought we had a team here that could be one of the top competitive teams in the NFL," Jones said. "I'm very, very, very sorry to our fans. You should have better than this. You can tell by the way some of the things that we've done to certainly make the Cowboys everything you want them to be, you should be able to tell that I won't rest until we've figured some things out to get us in a different spot. ... What it is, I don't have that."

Give Jerry credit for facing the media horde and answering the tough questions. It would have been hard to blame him if he had just headed home with a bag on his head.

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his mailbag.