IRVING, Texas – It would be quite unlike Cowboys coach Jason Garrett to deviate from his plan, regardless of circumstance. Looking ahead to Week 17, Garrett made sure not to.
With the Cowboys clinching the NFC East, and therefore a playoff spot, on Sunday night, there has been plenty of talk about Sunday's game against a woeful Washington team. Namely, does it benefit to even try?
The likeliest odds facing the Cowboys have them locked into the NFC's No. 3 seed, hosting the No. 6 seed in two weeks at AT&T Stadium. The result of Sunday's game against Washington can't do much to change that.
Garrett's answer when presented with this question was again to focus on the present – the Cowboys will watch the Indianapolis tape on Tuesday, and they'll begin practicing Wednesday.
"Our plan is to practice as well as we can practice and go play our best football game with the guys who are available to us," Garrett said. "We're excited about that opportunity. That's what we do here."
It didn't matter to Garrett that Dallas is still technically alive for a possible bye week during the playoffs. Given the right results – losses by both the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks – they could potentially climb to the conference's No. 2 seed.
Garrett was quick to point out, however, that they Cowboys play their season finale at noon – hours before any of their fellow NFC contenders kick off.
"We play the early game up there, so all the scenarios everybody is talking about, no one will know what those are," he said. "So we've got to go play our best football. The way to do that is focus on cleaning up this game when the players come in tomorrow and getting ready for the next challenge. That's what we're going to do."
It's the same mantra Garrett has followed through all of the ups, and the few downs of this season. It's the same philosophy Tony Romo credited him with instilling in this Cowboys team. It's not surprising to see him adhere to it despite a big accomplishment.
How the Cowboys choose to use their roster – "the guys who are available to us," as Garrett put it – will be interesting to see, though. DeMarco Murray famously played through a broken hand on Sunday, while Zack Martin played on a hobbled ankle. Rolando McClain has been listed with a knee problem for the better part of a month.
And of course there is the ever-present topic of Romo's back and how much rest it requires.
Garrett said all of the Cowboys' players with injury concerns appeared to come out of the weekend without any problems. To add to that, he said he didn't think the meaning, or lack thereof, of Sunday's game would impact his decisions on players' availability.
"I think you want to be true with those decisions," he said. "I don't think you want to force a player into a situation where he's not ready in a game that you think is important. And I think, conversely, you don't want to do the other thing. Guys are ready to play, let's go play."
That line of logic coincides nicely with Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones, who said he wouldn't want to sit anyone when his team travels to Washington D.C. this weekend. It also coincides with the message Garrett has preached all season.
It wasn't a message he was shying away from, despite a division title.
"I think you play. You play guys. You get 16 opportunities and you go play and go try and play your best football," he said.