When there seems to be nothing to play for, winning is hard (insert Detroit Lion’s joke here).
Dallas has found themselves in a part of the season where it seems as if there is nothing to play for. Mathematically, the Cowboys are still in the playoff hunt. But after last week’s loss to New Orleans — the best Dallas can finish is .500.
As the season progresses, one concerning question for interim head coach Jason Garrett is how can he motivate his players to play just as hard as if every game was a playoff game.
There is no doubt in my mind that Garrett will do all that he can to motivate the Cowboys to play their hearts out on that turf. Let me remind you, that Garrett technically hasn’t secured the head coach position for next year. So far, he has done nothing but impress team owner Jerry Jones, but if he were to lose out the remainder of the season he will not get the position.
Instead, the tougher question becomes how will the players respond to Garrett’s motivation. In other words, do they have an incentive to continue to truly go “all out” in practice? Do they have an incentive to dive for an extra yard every game just to get a first down? Do they have the motivation necessary to compete during the second half of the season?
Dallas fans, take a deep breath. The Cowboys are going to play hard every game and it wouldn’t surprise me if they finish with a .500 record or at least pull some awesome upsets.
The major factor is that every Dallas player is fighting for more than just a win, they’re each fighting for their jobs. Every single Cowboy is fighting for playing time and roster spots.
If you don’t believe me just look at Marion Barber. Garrett didn’t hesitate to fine the starting running back for failure to abide by the team dress code. Something as little as that says something so big: every game will be just as intense as if it were the playoffs, as I said above.
Even if players don’t have this mentality they will soon get it. Because if any Cowboys start to slack off, especially in game time, I am sure that Garrett will have their heads for it. Just like he has with rotating starters and fining players and changing practices and mitigating team ruls, Garrett will implicate the necessary penalties for players who just refuse to “show” up on game day.
The Cowboys are not a typical 3-8 team, they are a 3-9 team that should have been 8-3 at this point in the season, and that’s a minimal guess. So if any Dallas players intend to skip Sundays from here on out, you can count on them hearing from their head coach about it.