Finish the job

The Cowboys will open training camp with a resolve to finally finish the job in 2012.

They have entered many seasons over the past two years with excitement and optimism of this finally being the year.

But they have only ended the seasons disappointed and bitter.

It's something that has to stop in 2012 for a Cowboys team that is much improved on paper from last year's 8-8 team but must find a way to make sure this year ends differently.

Owner Jerry Jones has preached all offseason about the window of opportunity closing on this current team and there needs to be a sense of urgency to get it done it 2012.

"I think there's definitely urgency," tight end Jason Witten said. "I don't know when the window is open and closed, but there's unbelievable urgency. We feel like we're a good team, but we've got to execute better. We've got to play better in key situations. Just go back to that last game, I think that's clear.

"Everybody has an understanding of that. But for us, it can't be the same old story. Our actions have got to speak louder than our words. That's the approach we're taking. Thirty-one teams have the same goal. We've got to do something about it."

Witten remains bitter about how last season ended -- with a blowout loss to the Super Bowl champion New York Giants in a winner take all battle for the playoffs and the division title.

It was one of many bitter setbacks for the Cowboys and spurred them to overhaul the offensive line and the secondary on the offseason.

2011 No. 1 draft choice Tyron Smith was moved from right tackle to left tackle and veteran Doug Free was moved to the right side, where he is presumably better.

The Cowboys spent $41 million on two free-agent guards, Mackenzy Bernadeau from Carolina and Nate Livings from Cincinnati.

They signed cornerback Brandon Carr to a $50.1 million contract and drafted LSU standout Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick.

It was all with the aim of not only improving overall, but improving in the fourth quarter, when mental toughness, a reliable ground game and pass defense help close out games.

The Cowboys lost several games last year after taking leads into the fourth quarter, including three of the double-digit variety.

"Some of the personnel moves that we made will certainly help us in that area," Garrett said. "We want to be stronger running the football. We want to be able to defend the pass better. When you're ahead in games, if you can run the football and can defend the pass, you have a pretty good opportunity to hold those leads.

"There is a mental toughness you want to continue to develop on this football team. ... So many of these games come down to crunch time. We've handled it well over the last few years. Other times, we haven't. We've got to get better in that area."

The main thing according to Garrett is that the Cowboys have to finally get it done in 2012. That is the focus going into training camp. They will take things one day at a time, one practice at a time.

But in this bottom-line business, it's time for a breakthrough in Dallas.

"I think Witten's comments, without me speaking for him, stem from the fact that as a leader on this football team over the course of the last eight, nine, 10 years, he's a guy who understands we've been close at different times," Garrett said.

"We haven't gotten the job done. It's a point we try to make to our team all the time. It's a bottom-line business. It's a get-the-job-done business. I've heard that from many coaches through the years. I understand that as a coach. I understood that as a player. I think our team understands that."

CowboysHQ Top Stories