OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys returned to Oxnard late Sunday night with four days of practice/walkthroughs left on the West Coast, beginning Tuesday.
Jason Garrett intends to maximize every moment available.
The Cowboys' head coach saw effort but simply not enough execution in the team's sloppy 23-6 preseason loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium.
"When you're out there you have a responsibility to play at a certain level. Period," Garrett said. "The standard that we set is high. We're looking for guys who can play to that standard. We didn't get enough of that tonight."
The coach's message was received and echoed in the visitor's locker room before the short flight back to training camp headquarters.
"He just let us know it wasn't good enough," safety Barry Church said. "We knew coming out of that game that it definitely wasn't good enough. He just let us know what we need to do, what we need to fix and we'll go out there in practice and fix it up and get ready for Minnesota (on Saturday)."
The starters and backups have plenty of areas for improvement. Combined, the Cowboys' offense committed three turnovers and didn't register a first down until its fifth series midway through the second quarter. The defense yielded 39 yards on seven carries to 49ers starting running back Carlos Hyde. San Francisco averaged 26.3 yards on punt returns.
"There's no question in my mind guys were trying. We were trying to play well – we just didn't play very well," Garrett said in his postgame press conference.
"We had an opportunity to play the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium tonight for three hours," he continued. "Ninety football players are going to get a chance to play. Some guys are going to play more, some guys are going to play less.
"Take full advantage of your opportunity, and we didn't do that."
The Cowboys play their third preseason game back home at AT&T Stadium on Saturday. Typically the starters play multiple series, as much as a half or even a little more.
The team might have more regulars available against Minnesota. About a dozen starters/key contributors didn't play Sunday, including All-Pro receiver Dez Bryant and three-fifths of the offensive line (left tackle Tyron Smith, left guard Ronald Leary and right guard Zack Martin).
No matter who's in the game, though, the Cowboys realize they need better if they're going to defend last year's NFC East title and attempt another postseason run.
"We've just got to take everything that we did, (and) to begin with, realize that the world championship's going to be played right on this same grass (in February)," team owner/general manager Jerry Jones said at Levi's Stadium immediately after the game. "We all as a group right here, we're very disappointed we didn't look good out here at all tonight.
"We all recognize that we've got some time to improve on this, and we will."