The plane has landed.
It’s really real.
Today marks the official “start” of training camp as the Dallas Cowboys are now calling California their home for the next month or so.
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On Sunday, I discussed what I believed to be the Cowboys biggest strength heading into their annual trip to Oxnard. Today, we’ll look at what is probably their biggest concern.
Unlike the strengths, there are certainly fewer concerns to choose from. That’s obviously a good problem to have, which tends to be the case when you’re coming off a twelve win season and are less than five minutes away from a trip to the conference championship game.
With all that previous success, there are still a few issues that this team needs to resolve in order to take the next step.
I contemplated making the running back situation the biggest concern that Dallas will contend with however upon further review and deeper consideration, I think there is something else more serious that this team will have to manage in order to get to where they want to be.
When you think about it, it’s really one of the last monkeys that this organization has left to get off its back. If head coach Jason Garrett can do what has not been done in almost twenty years, there is not much left to accomplish besides winning it all.
That’s right. The Dallas Cowboys have not posted back to back double-digit win seasons since the 1995 and 1996 seasons. Four other times, not including last year, the Cowboys have won ten or more games, only to win no more than eight the next season.
If there is any good news to all of this, it’s that there probably isn’t a better man to lead this team down the path of success than Garrett.
After all, he was the offensive coordinator turned head coach the last time the Cowboys failed to back up a successful season. He’s lived through the anguish and agony of failure and seen it first hand.
That experience, along with the way he runs this program, could be what ultimately saves this team from stumbling again. If you don’t believe me, it sure sounds like Garrett is well aware of how the cloud of expectations can hang over a team trying to do something special.
"“A big part of the culture we talk about it controlling what we can control,” Garrett told ESPN.com. “I can honestly say to you I never really thought very much about my coaching future. What I do every day is wake up and try to do everything I can to build the kind of football team we all can be proud of. We try to instill that mentality in our coaches and our players. That’s how we think. Try to control what we can control, don’t worry about what people are saying on the outside, just do what we can do to the best of our ability every day. That’s really the way I live.”"
And then he continued on by saying this:
"“I think culture is really everything in any organization,” Garrett continued. “You’re trying to build your organization, build your football team the right way with the right kind of people and do things right each and every day. We talk a lot about the pursuit of excellence. I think if you have the right kind of guys and you’re striving for excellence every day, that’s really kind of the backbone of your culture.”"
I think it’s pretty clear that the players here have bought in to what the coaching staff preaches. It starts at the top with the strong amount of faith and admiration that owner Jerry Jones and son Stephen Jones has in Garrett and has trickled down.
If anyone is going to lead this team to the promised land, my money would be on Jason Garrett. It’s time to see if I’m right… one day at a time.