Jul 31, 2014; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett addresses players at training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Author’s Note: Don’s traveling — I can’t remember whether it’s for work or if he’s on vacation with his girlfriend because I sort of tune out whenever he talks about either of those topics — so you guys are just left with me and my musings this week.
As readers of this column know, it’s not just that I am a Cowboys fan, I genuinely feel like I have a relationship with this organization. It’s a long, storied history, filled with ups, downs and a bona fide commitment. But with three 8-8 seasons that have all ended with tears because we just couldn’t get the W that final game of the year, I’ve come to temper my own expectations. I’ve tried to steel myself against anguish by seeing the long game and “trusting the process.” I’ve consoled Don when he’s hurt his foot from kicking chairs in bars because we can’t manage the clock (more than once), talked my brother off the “I don’t know if I can keep doing this” ledge after games we should have won, defended Romo to even the craziest of haters (they are super special here in New York City) — but even I – the hopiest of the hopeful – have realized I just can’t keep putting myself into situations where I am getting disappointed over and over and over again. I can do that in my dating life — I’m a single woman in my 30s in a city where women outnumber men and everyone lies on their Tinder profile — so I just don’t want to do that when it comes to my sports teams. Because, my dear Cowboys, I need something more from you. Some specifics:
Jerry — I need you to stop talking. I know this is nearly impossible, but let’s just give it a try. Enjoy whatever perks may come with owning the team, but let’s just stop talking to people who write for any outlet anywhere. You say you trust your coach and you believe in the direction he is taking the team. So let him. Let there be one voice during the season — it will cause a lot less hoopla, unnecessary media speculation and distraction. We are sure to have plenty of that for other reasons, so let’s try to win by not losing in this area.
Jason — Your methodical approach — step by step, one day after the next — to all things is admirable and you are very good at keeping emotions in check. I’ve understood that up to a point. But we need to be honest about who is on your team — you have a bunch of great guys who at this point are willing to follow you anywhere and they need to see how emotionally invested you are in all of this. Those moments when you celebrate after a great catch? Let’s see more of that unbridled emotion. And, I’m not saying you need to cast blame or point fingers, but be more honest in your press conferences — we could all benefit from feeling like you are a little pissed off or pumped, depending on the circumstances and that you are acutely aware of the adjustments you may need to make. Fewer talking points, more gut reactions, please. A little less Felix, a little more Oscar.
Tony — I will continue to defend you until the ends of the earth because I don’t hold every ill of this team against you. But, just as your lackadaisical build belies your athleticism, your demeanor needs to more accurately reflect the expectations you have for yourself and your teammates. Express disappointment, but don’t pout. Teach, but don’t lecture. Act like the leader because you ARE the leader.
Dez – I think we have all given you some space to figure out your path and you have progressed – admittedly in fits and starts – and I am pumped to see what you will do this season. But you have to control those emotions. You can’t walk off the field and leave us hanging, thus reminding us of all the ways we can’t yet count on you to be there when the going gets tough. Steady, steady, steady – that’s what we need you to be. This is not to say I want you to tamp down on your passion for the game — just try to make it so that despite your disappointment, your lows aren’t as seemingly devastating. Derek Jeter should be your standard in this area.
DeMarco – Stop whining. Seriously. You know this is a team that is more pass oriented, so let’s not try to get in a jab every time anyone talks about the running game, ever. It’s not cute. You know what is cute? Winning Lombardi trophies. You had a great season in 2013 and you are key to our success this year. So step up, but do it without criticism. You just need to do what it is you do and let everyone else provide the analysis.
Rolando – You’re new, so it’s probably unfair for me to have expectations just yet, but you are also stepping in when we desperately need you. No one knows what to think of you. You’ve quit on people before and I’m a little scared at getting too invested here. Now, you seem to be a thinker, but I need you to not overthink this. Be patient with yourself — you’ve been out of the game for a bit — and trust that with your talent and hard work you will get back there.
Now, I could go on, but I don’t want to seem needy. And, more importantly, despite the odds of the Cowboys winning the Super Bowl only being slightly higher than me winning the Mega Millions tonight (thanks for reminding me of that, Steven), I’ve still got high hopes for this season. So let’s start off strong tomorrow against the Chargers — I don’t want to have to decide whether I can quit you.