IRVING, Texas – It's been a noticeable trend throughout the Cowboys' strong start to the season – the players in the locker room start to sound an awful lot like their coach.
It happened Wednesday, when Orlando Scandrick was asked about the importance of finishing the season strong – a notion Scandrick took issue with.
"We're not even at the finish line now, we're still just a little bit past the halfway point," he said. "We've got a big opportunity Sunday night to go down to a division opponent and win a game."
That sounds incredibly familiar to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett's Wednesday morning press conference, when he stressed the importance of focusing solely on Sunday's game against New York – not the Cowboys' big clash with Philadelphia in a week's time, or the short turnaround preceding that game.
"Let me make this really clear," Garrett said. "We're focused on this game and what we need to do today to get our team right to play as well as we can, so that's really where our focus is."
It's easy to guess at the reason for the shared values, and Scandrick confirmed it himself. In following Garrett to seven wins in the first 10 games, Scandrick said he's bought into the message.
"I believe it, man. All the best teams that I've been on, we've bought in," he said. "When I was at Boise State, I bought into our formulas up there, and we won a hell of a lot of games up there. You've got to do this together – this is such a team sport, and it really takes everybody."
It's not unique to the defensive backs or even the defense, either. In talking to Zack Martin or Travis Frederick about the coming grind of the last six weeks, the mantras of the Cowboys' coaching staff can be heard everywhere.
"We have this game on Sunday night, and after that we can focus on whatever else is coming," Frederick said. "But we have to win that game, otherwise the rest of the games don't matter."
[embeddedad0]The formula for winning that game – or any of these next six games, really -- is a simple one, according to Scandrick. In explaining that, the veteran corner once again began to sound like his coach.
"You've just got to go and, you know, play sound football," he said. "You can't turn the ball over, you've got to get turnovers and you can't make a lot of mistakes and you've got to minimize the penalties."
While it might be true, that analysis drew comparisons to Garrett, and how similar the player sounded to the coach. While it might be true, Scandrick pointed out that it's hardly an approach to football unique to Jason Garrett.
"I mean, that's the formula, though. If you don't turn the ball over and you get turnovers, and you don't get penalties, that's the recipe for winning," he said. "That's no Garrett, no Vince Lombardi, no Bill Belichick – that's just what it takes to win football games."
The Cowboys got back to that approach Nov. 9 against Jacksonville after losing the blueprint in losses to Washington and Arizona. Count Scandrick among the believers in what got them to this point.
"I've bought in, I'm all in," he said. "I'm a firm believer that if you take care of the ball, you go get the ball and you don't create penalties, you win football games."