IRVING, Texas -- Jason Garrett doesn't talk about being concerned. Maybe internally he is, but he voices being disappointed more than anything.
It's one thing to deal with losing when the expectations are low, which was the case last year when Garrett took over a 1-7 group. But things are different now. How Garrett deals with this latest disappointment going into Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers will be looked at closely. Does he rip his players for playing hard but not finishing?
Does he praise them for the effort despite the loss?
"The message is similar to what I said after the game," Garrett said Monday afternoon. "If we play like that, we have a chance to win a lot of games. We have to correct the obvious things that happened in the game. We will work very hard to do that."
There are all kinds of signs around the locker room area at Valley Ranch, where the Cowboys train, telling the players about the Cowboy Way. The signs are a symbol of what the Cowboys have been in the past.
But there is one sign that greets the players before they head into the shower area that best describes where they are right now, just one week into the season: "Resourceful. Able to accomplish a task in a challenging situation. Find a way."
The Cowboys need to find a way to overcome the potential loss of cornerback Orlando Scandrick (ankle) and deal with minor injuries to wide receiver Dez Bryant (quad) and cornerback Mike Jenkins (shoulder), which could limit their abilities to perform. Of course, the mental state of quarterback Tony Romo, who committed two turnovers in the fourth quarter, including an interception that cost his team the game, is also a concern.
How does Garrett find the words to push his team through this week?
"The message is we are a good football team," tight end Jason Witten said. "We had some disappointing plays there at the end that hurt us [and] you got to keep your confidence up and keep going and you can't let this [happen], like last year, where it snowballs on you."
That's the biggest key, making sure the disappointments of 2010, when the Cowboys finished 6-10, don't seep into the locker room.
"We like where we are now," defensive end Marcus Spears said. "Nobody is really expecting much out of us, which is a good thing I think from the inside. Last night, I think it opened people's eyes. We've been working under the radar, and we got a chance to do some great things this year."
Garrett has preached the "each and every day" approach because that's what he knows as a coach. He must push his team past the disappointment of Sunday night, when it choked away a lead it should have held.
Garrett has issues to deal with regarding his roster. He must push the front office to continue working out players, which it did prior to Week 1.
The decision to start Sean Lee over Keith Brooking made the coaching staff look smart. Does Garrett ask special-teams coach Joe DeCamillis to make a change with the punt coverage unit? Personal protector Jesse Holley failed to pick up a defender, leading to a blocked punt that led to a game-tying touchdown.
Does Garrett sit Romo down and make sure his quarterback is mentally OK? Does he do that with Bryant?
This is where all the conversations Garrett has had with other coaches in the last few months start to kick in.
He can't let this 0-1 start to the season morph into something bigger. The Cowboys can't let a punt get blocked in the fourth quarter or have their quarterback commit a turnover with the game on the line. There were two delay-of-game penalties that were unnecessary. Moving the ball in short yardage is a must. Moving the ball in the final three minutes to seal the deal is also important.
"These are things we talked about a lot, worked on a lot in practice and didn't execute when we needed to execute them," Garrett said. "That's where we are as a football team. I think we have the right kind of guys, players and coaches who understand what happened, [and] can technically and instructively go forward and address some of those things that happened without losing the passion, emotion and enthusiasm we played with."
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.