ARLINGTON, Texas – Jason Garrett and the Cowboys' coaching staff spent Monday speaking to approximately 500 youth, middle and high school football coaches about the fundamentals of success on the field at all levels of competition.
Tuesday, the Cowboys will arrive in Oxnard, Calif., for training camp. Expectations will be high coming off a 12-4 first-place division record – higher than last year's camp coming off three straight 8-8 records and no playoffs in four straight seasons.
One of Garrett's messages to his team is simple and similar to last year: No one defines them but them, whether they're a popular Super Bowl pick or a last-place prediction.
"We define ourselves by what we do, what we say and don't say, and how we present ourselves each and every day," Garrett said at the team's annual Coaches Clinic at AT&T Stadium. "When I did this press conference a year ago, we were probably regarded as a bottom-five or a bottom-10 team in the league. One of the best things our team did last year was we defined ourselves by what we did. We didn't listen to any outside forces saying that we weren't this or we weren't that. We just went to work every day. We have to do that again.
"You might think differently of us this year. It really doesn't matter. We define ourselves by what we do, what we say and don't say, and how we present ourselves each and every day. That's individually, that's collectively. That's what we're going to start (Tuesday)."
Monday's event, presented by UT Southwestern Medical Center and its Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair, included presentations from the Cowboys offensive, defensive and special teams staff about on-field fundamentals. Hunt Batjer, MD, chair of UT Southwestern's Department of Neurological Surgery and co-chair of the NFL's Head, Neck, and Spine Committee, along with former NFL player and coach Mike Singletary, were scheduled to speak on concussion recognition and prevention. Former Cowboy Tony Casillas also spoke about USA Football's Heads Up Football platform – an NFL effort to make football a better and safer game for all.
Garrett also addressed the participants during lunch, and he said the event "reminds us of how great this game is and how fortunate we are to do what we do."
"We had a really good offseason, we laid a wonderful foundation for our team, and then you get away for a month," Garrett said. "We all had a good time when we were away from it, but I think the other part of it is we were chomping at the bit to get back."