As a Cowboys fan from across the pond in England, I’m gearing up for what I hope will be a spectacular game versus the Jaguars in November. The NFL’s promotion of the international series ramped up on Wednesday. Each team involved had a player representing them at Wembley available to talk to the media. The players were: offensive tackle Menelik Watson for the Oakland Raiders, defensive end Cameron Wake for the Miami Dolphins, cornerback Will Blackmon from the Jacksonville Jaguars, linebacker Stephen Tulloch from the Detroit Lions, linebacker Osi Umenyiora from the Atlanta Falcons and most importantly cornerback Brandon Carr from our Dallas Cowboys.
A debate seems to rankle amongst fans and pundits alike all regarding the current state of affairs at the Cowboys. Is this a team in the throws of being rebuilt? Or are the Cowboys actually just a couple of additions and a touch of good luck away from achieving something? I was lucky enough to attend the event yesterday and got Carr’s opinion on the matter.
"“I still think we’re on the cusp. We’ve added new faces both older and younger. We’ve still got the core of our team. Our core guys are in the system and still here. It’s a mentality change. Having belief that we can get that extra stop in the 4th quarter. That comes with going out there and doing it. Start believing in yourself and you can go out and execute it. We want to start having fun, then we can cause a bit of chaos. You’ve got to have fun, and that comes from stuff in the week- being on cue with your play book, asking questions, from practice, hitting everything in the way it should be hit. So when the lights come on there’s no skipping beats.”"
There was a real air of positivity around Carr. He’d spoken earlier with enthusiasm at how the rookies are developing quickly and going toe to toe in training with the experienced players. There is a total sense of unknown around this roster and what it can (or won’t) achieve but either way they’re going to do it together.
2013 saw perhaps a disconnect between the coaching staff and players. The phrase square pegs in round holes springs to mind. On too many occasions heads dropped on the field, or focus evaporated leaving opposition teams to pounce. In four of the Cowboys eight losses we were actually winning at half time. Week 2 at the Kansas City Chiefs, week 4 at the San Diego Chargers, week 8 at Detroit Lions and arguably the worst of them all week 15 against the Green Bay Packers. There’s no definitive answer for these losses. Mistakes by players, poor play calling, injuries- we could go on for ages. There isn’t going to be a quick fix for the Cowboys. Errors must be eradicated or at the very least cut down. The staff must feel confident in the plays they’re calling otherwise how can the players execute it to the best of their ability?
Let’s not be naive here. This could be a desperately long season for the Cowboys. But to hear directly from a player that they’re relishing in the challenge to come, believe fully in their comrades and confident in the orders barked from the sideline then we can approach the season with buoyancy.
Maybe my cup for once is half full rather than empty. But for now, I’ll have some of what Carr’s drinking.