As much as the Dallas Cowboys are excited about the opportunity to win the NFC East title in the win or go home showdown against the Giants this Sunday, there is certainly frustration among Cowboys fans, if not the players themselves, that this has not already been taken care of.
Consider that the Cowboys have lost five games in which they have blown fourth quarter leads, including two in the month of the December to the Lions and Giants to along with early season fourth-quarter meltdowns to the Jets, Lions and Patriots.
If they win any two of those games, they would have already clinched a playoff berth and wouldn’t be facing the possibility of not making the playoffs at all.
Coach Jason Garrett and his players say they only focus in the opportunity before than, not the ones they let slip away.
"We’re excited about the opportunity," coach Jason Garrett said. "Like a lot of teams in this league, you play 15 games up to this point. A lot of things go your way and some things don’t go your way. For us, things have gone our way enough to give us this chance. You can look back at the successes that we had that maybe we shouldn’t have had and maybe some of the disappointments we’ve had that maybe we shouldn’t have had. That’s the Giants. That’s every team in this league. What we need to do is put our best foot forward this week, prepare as well as we can prepare individually as players and coaches and put our best foot forward. It’s going to be a great challenge; it’s going to be a great night."
Said defensive Marcus Spears:
"It’s not frustrating. This is where we are. I think if you get frustrated about things we can’t control, that we aren’t in the playoffs already, we can’t do anything about that. This game has a lot to do with that, though. That’s what we are focused on. I think if you have the mentality that you need to go get a win and that you need to prepare the right way this week, then that’s what is going to put you in the driver’s seat to win this ball game. Thinking about where we are and where we aren’t, that’s not going to help us come Sunday because the Giants aren’t going to be concerned with that either."
Marcus Spears talks about focusing on the task at hand, and not worrying about what "could have" or "should have" been.
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett
IRVING, Texas – Working for Jerry Jones presents challenges that no other NFL head coaches have to confront.
There aren’t any other NFL owners who hold postgame press conferences and have twice-weekly radio appearances, occasionally questioning his coach’s strategic thinking. There aren’t any other NFL owners who see fit to approach his head coach on the sideline in the middle of a game to pass along information and discuss which players should sit.
It’s a good thing Jason Garrett is uniquely suited for the job.
Garrett has a good relationship with his boss and gives the owner/general manager the proper respect, but he manages to do it without showing any weakness or sacrificing authority. If you don’t think that’s hard to do, just look at Wade Phillips, whose motto was, “Whatever Jerry says.” Or look at Jimmy Johnson, whose inability to get along with his former Arkansas teammate resulted in a mid-dynasty divorce.
Garrett clearly didn’t feel it was necessary for Jones to join him on the sideline in the middle of Saturday’s first quarter. After all, there are plenty of lower-profile people in the organization who are plenty of capable of passing along that Tony Romo’s X-rays were negative and the Giants had beaten the Jets.
But there Jerry was, for all the world to see. Why?
“That’s probably a question you need to ask him,” Garrett said.
Translation: It was totally unnecessary. But Garrett let the world read between the lines without saying anything remotely inflammatory.
This is the second time this season Garrett handled a potential Jerry crisis with aplomb.
Remember Jerry criticizing Garrett’s conservative play-calling late in the loss to the Patriots? Jerry said being conservative “bit us,” basically blaming Garrett for the loss.
You can debate all day whether Jerry was right, but there’s no question that it’s wrong for an owner to be so outspoken against a coach who he’s committed to keeping, something Jones admitted on his radio show a couple of days later.
Garrett managed to compliment his boss while pretty much treating the comments like white noise.
"Anybody who’s ever had the good fortune to work for Jerry Jones understands that he wants to win," Garrett said that Monday. "He’s very passionate about it. And I’ve had that experience as a player, as an assistant coach and now as a head coach.
"Like I said, anybody who’s been around him understands how much he cares about winning. That’s one of the things we love about working for this organization. He’s very passionate about the game and he’s very emotional about the game."
There’s no better way for a head coach to deal with Jerry’s quirks than to respectfully blow them off. Garrett has got that down.
Jason Garrett joins The Fan to talk about his quarterback, and the challenge they will face this weekend against the Lions.