OXNARD, Calif. – The confidence is still there with the Cowboys. The sense of self-entitlement seems to be gone.
The Cowboys will always be held to the standards of the Super Bowl teams of the 1970s and '90s. Coach Jason Garrett put up pictures of those title teams right outside the Valley Ranch locker room as a constant reminder of the expectations for the franchise.
But the routine in recent seasons was that bloated preseason expectations turned into postseason disappointment. The America’s Team stuff still goes strong for the marketing department, but the Cowboys can’t just slap stars on their helmets and assume they’ll be a special team.
The Cowboys are mediocre until they prove otherwise, which provides plenty of motivation for a star-studded core that has only one career playoff win.
“There’s not much room for us to talk,” 10-year veteran tight end Jason Witten said. “It’s not the Cowboys of the past. We’re coming off an 8-8 season. Our expectations are high, but we’re all feeling a little different. The approach is we’ve got to get a lot better.”
Witten, who is making his voice of reason heard, can rattle off a lot of reasons he believes the Cowboys can contend.
Coach Jason Garrett has established a “Be Great Today” culture. The core remains talented and has stomachs growling with hunger. There are a handful of young players with the potential to emerge as stars. They made significant personnel upgrades this offseason, highlighted by $50 million cornerback Brandon Carr.
Witten sees a team that has a chance to be special, but he doesn’t expect people to buy that until the Cowboys perform in the playoffs.
“Hey, until we show it, nobody else is going to believe it,” Witten said. “That’s why the motto 'Keep your mouth shut and go play' has kind of taken over for this football team.”