IRVING, Texas – When it comes to sending messages, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has plenty of them, but a lot of them tend to sound the same.
The Garrett-isms usually preach about "the process" or being your "best regardless of circumstances." He'll often stress the importance of playing well "at home, road, the parking lot or the moon" when questions refer to the location of games.
He also tells the team to focus on "nameless, faceless opponents" and prepare for the matchup regardless of who is on the other side.
This week, Garrett took it a step further and actually placed a mannequin in the locker room, wearing a generic white jersey. There was no face. There was no name. Just a guy in a football uniform ready to play.
Garrett certainly isn't the first head coach around here to try and motivate his players with visual props. Bill Parcells would hang mouse traps from the ceiling at Valley Ranch when the Cowboys were facing an underdog opponent as he warned his players not to "eat the cheese," meaning buy into the hype of it being an easy game. The mouse trap also symbolled the "trap game" mentality.
Parcells would also put empty gas cans in a player's locker to indicate he needs to pick up the pace, or intensity.
Now it was Garrett's turn, and he clearly wants his Cowboys team to focus on themselves Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia. Yes, the Eagles have familiar faces in DeMarco Murray and even Miles Austin. But looking beyond the former teammates is what Garrett is seeking from his team, a group that managed to rally in the final minutes to beat the Giants Sunday 27-26.
[embeddedad0]Meanwhile, Murray scored two touchdowns in his Eagles debut, but only produced nine rushing yards on eight carries as Philadelphia lost to the Falcons, 26-24.
The Cowboys and Eagles entered the season as the favorites to win the NFC East this year, after splitting the regular-season series in 2014. Both teams won road games as they squared off twice in the final six weeks of the season.
This year, the Cowboys and Eagles play twice in the first half of the regular season, including Sunday's afternoon affair at Lincoln Financial Field.
But to Garrett, it might as well be played on the moon, against guys without faces.