There's something all too familiar about Mondays in the Jason Garrett era.
You fire up the tape of the Cowboys' latest close loss and are left shaking your head to understand exactly how the team wound up on the wrong end of the scoreboard. The 19-13 loss to the Falcons falls right in line.
You wonder how the Cowboys can move the ball down the field so easily on their first two drives before failing in the red zone despite the presence of targets like Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. You wonder why the Cowboys waited so long to go no-huddle and put the game into the hands of Tony Romo when it was clear they couldn't run. You wonder how a defense can be so bad in all phases of the game and how the Cowboys as currently constructed can get better.
Not all of these things are on the coaches. The Cowboys' execution was poor on many of the biggest plays of the game and there's no way Garrett can tackle or catch for his players. He can stop putting players who can't do the job into those positions, though, and start doing more to build the game plan around the players who are capable of doing what's asked of them.
After all, these are the same players that have executed well enough to have the Cowboys on offense with a chance to win the game in each of their last three losses before failing to make it happen. That lack of growth is almost more alarming than a string of blowout losses would be because it speaks to Garrett's failure to find the connective tissue that makes the Cowboys' body whole enough to win games.
You can't argue the talent isn't good enough given the circumstances of these losses. That only leaves one place to go and it doesn't reflect well on Garrett.
Here's the rest of the good, bad and ugly of the Cowboys loss.
GOOD: Tony Romo wasn't perfect on Sunday night. He was more than good enough to lead the team to a win, though, and it is impossible to understand why the Cowboys went away from him for so long before finally giving him a chance to cut things loose. Romo sparks the team in a way that nothing else does and it's high time the coaching staff accepts it.
UGLY: The final play of the game says just about everything about this Cowboys season. Given a chance to try for a win, the Cowboys opted to throw underneath to Felix Jones.
UGLY: Orlando Scandrick's missed tackle on one third down conversion in the final minutes by Jacquizz Rodgers was deplorable. His penalty for holding Roddy White on another third down conversion a short time later was unacceptable. When a guy can't play the run or the pass, why is he on the field?
GOOD: Bruce Carter is making it impossible to use Sean Lee's absence as an excuse. He played another strong game and is doing his best to keep the rest of the defense from looking as embarrassing as it wound up looking.
UGLY: Speaking of embarrassing defensive performances, can we please not hear from Rob Ryan this week? Or at least have the people reporting his weekly bragging make a note that what we're hearing has no more factual basis than claiming the world is flat.
BAD: Dez Bryant might have been hurting, but he was in the lineup and that means he only gets so much absolution for his invisible game. As A Bronx Tale taught us, there's nothing worse than wasted talent. Bryant proves it almost weekly. So do the rest of the Cowboys, come to think of it.