IRVING, Texas -- Jerry Jones isn't going to take this quietly.
The same mistakes that doomed his Dallas Cowboys to an 8-8 regular season haunted them again Sunday in a 27-10 wild-card loss to Minnesota.
It's the second straight year the Cowboys have been flattened in the first round of the playoffs and Jones, the owner and general manager, sounds ready to shake things up to try and keep it from happening again.
"The way we plan for things, we can't operate with results like this," said Jones, who spent $41.5 million in bonuses on this team. "We have to give ourselves a better chance to win.
"Everybody's disappointed. We had much higher expectations this year."
After a four-year span in which Dallas won three Super Bowls, the Cowboys have won one playoff game the past four years. They are 24-24 over the last three regular seasons and 0-2 in the playoffs.
The first step in any shakeup is usually firing the coach and Jones already has triggered speculation Chan Gailey won't be back for a third season.
After expressing support for the coach a few weeks ago, Jones refused to comment Sunday on Gailey's status, although he said, "I don't blame an individual player at all."
Gailey and Jones met for an hour Monday, but the coach said his future never came up. He resisted directly asking about it.
"Did I want to? Probably," Gailey said. "Instead of me commenting on anything, when he gets ready to make a statement, he'll make a statement."
Gailey said he knows his job is in jeopardy because even though Jones hasn't said so, "he doesn't deny it."
"That's what I read in the paper," he said.
As they walked to the locker room Sunday, Gailey was about 15 feet ahead of Jones. The owner made no effort to catch up.
Maybe Jones already was thinking about the personnel decisions he faces.
The list begins with Deion Sanders, whose contract can be voided to avoid a $12.7 million hit on next season's salary cap. Whether Jones re-signs him, and at what price, goes a long way in determining how much is left for everyone else.
"I would like to come back," said Sanders, who wants at least $8 million. "But there are things that need to be addressed."
Counting Sanders' existing contract, the Cowboys have more than $65 million committed to 34 players next season. That's roughly $3 million over the salary cap and 19 players shy of a full roster.
While getting around the cap has never been a problem for Jones, he's starting to question the benefit of loading up on high-priced veterans and filling in with cheaper players.
In 1999, that strategy bought him:
-- A 3-0 start, followed by a 5-9 finish.
-- No back-to-back wins after Oct. 3.
-- Eight straight road losses.
The Cowboys only made the playoffs because the NFC was so weak.
They almost eliminated themselves by late-season losses to the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints, only to get in with a final weekend victory over the sagging New York Giants.
But then the same problems that doomed Dallas all season continued against Minnesota in the playoffs.
The Cowboys opened by driving to the Vikings' 1, then kicked a field goal. Sanders fumbled a punt, leading to a Minnesota field goal.
After going up 10-3, the Cowboys then left a trail of penalties, turnovers and other breakdowns and the Vikings followed it to 24 unaswered points. The 17-point loss was Dallas' worst of the season.
"We had a lot of games that seemed to go the way this particular game did," quarterback Troy Aikman said. "They never really did anything to stop us. We stopped ourselves."
The Cowboys were ahead in the fourth quarter of six of their eight regular-season losses and were within a touchdown in the other two. Instead of drawing comfort from being close, it was another source of frustration.
Emmitt Smith, who, at age 30, enjoyed his best year running in the last three seasons, described the team as "showing signs of brilliance, showing signs of being a very good ball club, but a team that couldn't put it all together."
Injuries were partly to blame.
Dallas put 13 players on injured reserve. Neck injuries suffered by Michael Irvin and Daryl Johnston are likely to end their careers.
The Cowboys played one game this season without Aikman, Smith or Irvin, something they hadn't done since 1989. Befitting their bizarre season, they won.
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