FRISCO, Texas -- Jason Garrett won’t change the script.
The closest the Dallas Cowboys' coach came to switching things up was giving his players Tuesday off as well as Christmas on Monday. Because of a funky schedule, with games on either coast in back-to-back weeks, he thought it was best to give them an extra day off after the debilitating loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Would he have had the same plan had the Cowboys entered Week 17 with a chance to make the playoffs with a win against the Philadelphia Eagles?
“I don’t know,” Garrett said. “Very well could have been.”
The Cowboys don’t have a chance to make the playoffs with a win this Sunday. The loss to the Seahawks eliminated that possibility after a season that has resembled many of the past with Garrett. From 2011-13, the Cowboys finished 8-8, losing de facto NFC East championship games in Week 17.
With a loss Sunday, only Jeff Fisher will have more .500 records than Garrett. Fisher had five in 20 full seasons as the coach of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams. Don Shula had four on his way to becoming the NFL coach with the most all-time wins.
Why did the Cowboys find themselves in this position after finishing an NFC-best 13-3 last year with a roster apparently on the rise?
“Don’t really want to get into all that,” Garrett said. “I do know our team has been battling hard, fighting hard, to give ourselves a chance.”
That Garrett would not want to get into the reasons why is not surprising. The discussion as to why he wouldn’t would have to be had over a “couple of lemonades,” to steal one of his go-to phrases when he does not want to go into any depth.
Jerry Jones opted to stick with Garrett through the three straight 8-8 seasons and saw that patience rewarded with a 12-4 finish in 2014 and last year’s 13-3 mark. Aside from the 4-12 debacle in 2015 set in motion mostly because of the twice broken collarbone suffered by Tony Romo, Garrett has had the Cowboys in the playoffs or in contention for a playoff spot each season.
To some, that is not good enough, considering the Cowboys’ history. But Jones appears willing to give Garrett an eighth full season. While others focus on Garrett’s job security, he doesn’t.
“It’s not something I think about very much,” said Garrett, who is signed through 2019. “I get focused on what I need to do, to do the job as well as I can do it. That is what my attention is and focus each and every day.”
It should come as no surprise then that Garrett’s plan is to play everybody who is healthy. Ultimately, everybody should be available except Smith (back, hip, groin, knee), David Irving (concussion) and Orlando Scandrick (back).
Quarterback Dak Prescott does not want to watch Sunday’s game.
“I’m playing, it’s important to me,” Prescott said. “I hope it’s important to my teammates, this organization. I’ll be damned if I’ll finish the ’17 season with that performance last week. It’s big for me to go in and finish this season [with] this team, this offense, the right way and the way we want to.”
That’s all that Garrett is asking for this week.
“Mental toughness is defined by being your best regardless of what the circumstances are,” Garrett said. “That’s something we talk about a lot. It’s something we try to instill in our football team. The biggest thing we have to do is prepare well today -- get locked in on today, do our best in our practice to get better and get ourselves ready to play a good football team on Sunday.”
A win Sunday would give the Cowboys consecutive winning records for the first time since 2007-08. When Garrett was asked why the team has not been able to win consistently year to year, he deflected the answer to what went wrong against Seattle.
He mentioned takeaways -- the Cowboys had none -- and giveaways -- the Cowboys had three.
The script doesn’t change.
But when will the results?