Just Let Johnston Lend A Little Perspective

look where we're ranked here,' well do a little research and try to find out why. It's not Jason Garrett, it's not because of Jason Garrett, and it's just amazing to me that all of a sudden everybody's like, 'Oh the shine is off that star and look he wasn't a hot commodity this year in the (head coaching) vacancies.' Come on, now.

"Look at the guys who were. Everybody is a frontrunner who wants to hire a new coach. Very rarely do you see an organization go out and hire a guy who wasn't part of the - Baltimore Ravens huge turnaround, Rex Ryan. Or Steve Spagnuolo from what the Giants did last year and then this year without Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan, so now he becomes a hot commodity.

"Jason is just such a smart guy. He understands it. He believes in what he's doing, and the most important thing is, as long as you believe in what you're doing, and you get people to execute it, you're going to be fine. And we're all going to have ups and downs; it's never a straight-line ride."

In fact, since the turn of the century, with the exception of New England, there hasn't been a whole lot of "straight-line" success in the NFL. Of the nine Super Bowls played from 2000-08, there have been 13 participants, only the Patriots (four), Pittsburgh (two) and Giants (two) able to repeat, and to think the middle of that 2007 season the Giants turned into a magical one, everyone was ready to fire Tom Coughlin.

"Hey, they had a bump in the road last year," Johnston said of the Cowboys following 13-3 with 9-7. "It's important for the leaders on the offense to get that message out, to the other guys. Just sit back and take a look at what happened to us last year. All the guys who missed games - the quarterback, the running back not healthy, the tight end not healthy - a lot of things going on.

"And now all of a sudden all that leadership and chemistry stuff comes in because you do have adversity. So how do you handle that adversity? Well, maybe at the end of the season they didn't handle it all that well."

And like after 16 straight weeks of dealing with this, dealing with that, the wide receiver making waves and never happy, all the injuries and sourced stories and anonymous quotes - normally from whoever is trying to cover their own selves - and dropping two heartbreaking losses in a three-game span, the Cowboys limped into Philadelphia.

Says Johnson, "You can be mentally drained from talking about all those negative issues. They were just tired - they looked tired at the end of the season."

They played worse than that in the 44-6 loss to Philadelphia when a win at The Linc would have put ointment on all the sores incurred to that point. In the win-and-you're-in game that Sunday after Christmas, the Cowboys no-showed.

Unraveled before our very eyes.

"That's the lasting memory," Johnston said of the 2008 season. "What's the last thing you remember about the Dallas Cowboys? A lot of people say quitting in Philadelphia, which, let me tell you, it's going to be hard for them at the beginning of the year to get that memory out of Cowboys fans' minds."

Now this might be a discussion for another time, and likely to be pointed out again and again before the 2009 season opens that second week in September. This issue will be as important as last year's, when we pointed out how difficult it was going to be for the Cowboys to even approach the success they had in the 13-3 season and that their biggest hurdle would be how they dealt with defeat early in the season.

But DJ knows. He's been there when haunted at the start of a season by either the previous year's success or failure.

"That's their biggest challenge," Johnston said. "That is a tough, tough loss to finish the year on. Everything on the line, win and you're in, and to play that style, is a tough one to get through.

"That to me is their biggest challenge (for 2009)."

Again, that's not me. That's the Moose.

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