IRVING, Texas – Executive vice president Stephen Jones is pleased with how this year’s schedule panned out.
The Cowboys hadn’t opened at home since 2007 and hadn’t played home games to start and end the season since 1998. This year, they’ll start the season at home against the Giants and end the season at home against the Eagles.
Jones joked that he might make the Giants dress in the parking lot to alter the Cowboys’ luck at home against their division foes. The Giants have beaten the Cowboys in each of the last four regular season matchups in Dallas, while the Cowboys have won two of their last three games on the road against the Giants.
“It’ll be obviously a huge game to kick off the season,” Jones said on 105.3 FM The Fan. “There’s nothing better than Cowboys and Giants to start the year off on a Sunday night. I know we’re fired up about it.”
Jones described the mix of games as perfect. As it stands, the Cowboys will play one Monday night game, three Sunday night games and their annual Thanksgiving game.
The bye week isn’t until Week 11, which should make the short week for the Thanksgiving Day game in Week 13 more bearable.
“You kind of look at the thing as a whole, and you’re hoping at the end of the day that you don’t have a three-game road stretch or things of that nature, and you hope that bye’s strategically placed,” Jones said. “We kind of like where our bye is.”
Many thought the Cowboys would match up with the Broncos and Peyton Manning to draw more viewers in on Thanksgiving Day, but that game will occur on Oct. 6. Instead, the Cowboys have a matchup with the Raiders on Thanksgiving.
“Thanksgiving takes care of itself in our mind,” Jones said. “Regardless of who you’re playing on Thanksgiving, it’s a big day in Dallas and people show up.”
The question at that point will be how many starting players will be healthy late in the year. The defense absorbed an exorbitant amount of injuries last season, but Jones expects everyone to be ready to go by training camp, including
Jones said if the team can stay healthy, he likes the Cowboys’ chances of “significant improvements” on the 8-8 record they’ve finished with the last two seasons.
“They’re all making big progress,” Jones said. “I think they’re all going to be ready here to really start getting involved in our offseason program. There’s no concern whatsoever that all these guys won’t be ready to go for training camp. We’re very optimistic about that. We’ve got our eyes on not only getting them healthy, but keeping them healthy. We’ve got some good ideas on that.”
In the meantime, the Cowboys’ front office is preparing for the NFL Draft next week. Jones said the team just finished up the draft big board, which can be a grind.
“The next week will be spent strategizing, how certain players could fit, who are guys that could realistically fall for us,” Jones said. “If there’s three or four players, really walking through who’s the best player and who works best for us. A lot of strategy will go on the next week. It’s actually the more enjoyable part of it.”