Wade Phillips is a supportive coach; he can find a positive in almost anything. But the latest loss by the Dallas Cowboys was an exception.
Phillips was so deflated after Sunday's 35-17 defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars that his voice was lifeless. He sounded like a man who does not know what else he can do to fix a team who have lost six and won only once and seem to be running rapidly downhill.
"I'm distraught to say the least," Phillips said. "It was embarrassing, I thought, the way we played, the way we coached. We didn't give ourselves a chance to win the game.
"It's very painful at this point in the season to be where we are. I thought we'd come out and really play with a lot of passion and so forth, and we didn't ... It fooled me that we didn't. I thought we were going to be ready and we weren't."
David Garrard, the Jacksonville quarterback, threw four touchdown passes and ran in for another, and the Jaguars defence snatched four interceptions.
A pivotal play came in the final seconds of the first half. The Jaguars were leading 14-3 but the Cowboys were within a yard of the end zone. Jacksonville stopped Marion Barber, the running back, on third down, then Dallas went for it on fourth down. Jon Kitna, the quarterback, spun to his right, only to find Barber was coming from his left. There was a hand off, a collision and a goal-line stop.
The Jaguars scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the third quarter, and the outcome was never in doubt again.
"The veterans talked all week about, 'You take their will'," said Tyson Alualu, a rookie defensive tackle for the Jaguars. "We were relentless that way."
Tony Romo, the injured Dallas quarterback, could only watch from the sideline, his left arm in a sling because of a broken collarbone, as the Cowboys continued their worst start since 1989. They have their first four-game losing streak since 2002. They are also 0-4 at home this season and 6-6 overall at the $1.2 billion (Dh4.4bn) Cowboys Stadium.
"I'm dumbfounded," Jerry Jones, the owner, said.
The Cowboys opened the game by driving to the Jacksonville 16-yard line. They kicked a field goal and did not score again until they were down 28-3 in the fourth quarter.
The defence could not stop the ground game or the pass, and hardly pressured Garrard. The Cowboys did not allow a 100-yard runner all last season and have done so four times in five games this term. The strange part is, there is only one new starter.
"Same guys, same defence, and we're not getting it done," Marcus Spears, the defensive end, said. "Something has changed from last year. What it is, I don't have an answer."
Neither does Phillips.
"I've got talented players and I'm not getting them to play well enough," he said. "To me, that's the root of the problem."