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DeMarcus Lawrence’s ‘backbone’ rant is latest sign of Cowboys dysfunction

After a week in which several unnamed players criticized head coach Mike McCarthy’s staff, Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence believes his team needs to show more of a spine.

Lawrence said as much after the Cowboys fell to 2-5 on the season – and lost backup quarterback Andy Dalton to a concussion – with Sunday’s 25-3 road loss to the Washington Football Team.

“We need more belief and more high spirits around this team, and really, more fight,” Lawrence said after the game, which the Cowboys finished with seventh-round draft pick Ben DiNucci at quarterback. “That’s really, I feel like, one of our weaknesses. We need to build a stronger backbone, fight and also make sure that we brought everything possible to come out with a victory.”

McCarthy also called out his team for not coming to Dalton’s defense after he was injured on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Washington’s Jon Bostic on a third-quarter slide.

Even before Dalton’s departure, McCarthy had seen the signs that his reeling team was repeating past mistakes. The Cowboys trailed by at least 14 points in the first half for the sixth consecutive week.

“We talked at halftime about the ‘here-we-go-again’ mode on the sidelines,” McCarthy said. “You know, we’ve got to move past that. That’s part of making progress throughout the season. We need to learn from our mistakes. We can’t keep letting our mistakes hold us down and hold us back.

“The only ones who are going to get us out of the hole are us as a football team.”

The Cowboys have started 2-5 for only the fifth time in franchise history, including a 4-12 finish in 2015, a 5-11 showing in 2001 and a 3-13 record in 1988. They also rallied to get to .500 (7-7) in 1965.

They will be without starting quarterback Dak Prescott (ankle) and starting tackles Tyson Smith (neck) and La’el Collins (hip) for the remainder of the season, yet the Cowboys still have a chance to move back into first place in the downtrodden NFC East with a win Sunday at Philadelphia.

“Let’s quit candy-coating it,” McCarthy said. “We need to be much better, and we’re running out of time.”

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