Nick Eatman is the author of the recently published ****If These Walls Could Talk: Dallas Cowboys***, a collection of stories from the Cowboys' locker room, sideline and press box, with a foreword written by Darren Woodson.*
IRVING, Texas – With eight games down and eight to play, Jason Garrett knows when and where his team will be this week.
He's got a good idea what to expect, but it's the *how *part that has him optimistic despite the Cowboys' six-game losing streak.
When asked on Monday what gives him hope about this season, he points to *how *his team has played in these six games.
"Just how we play," Garrett said. "How matters. How we practice and how we play matters. We emphasize that to our team a lot. We believe if you play the right way over time you're going to get the results you want."
So far, the Cowboys just haven't been good enough in the last six games to get over the hump. Two of the losses, including Sunday's setback to the Eagles, have occurred in overtime, while last week the Cowboys allowed a late field goal by the Seahawks. Other losses in the streak have included late touchdowns in the fourth quarter by the Falcons and Giants.
Sunday night's defeat to the Eagles was yet another example of a Cowboys team that plays well enough for most of the game, but falters in the clutch. Garrett said there are plenty of aspects that need to be cleaned up, but overall, he can't fault the effort.
And it's that same effort that he feels will eventually turn the tide with his team.
"Did we play perfectly yesterday? No, we did not," Garrett said in Monday's press conference. "There is plenty of stuff to clean up on offense, defense and the kicking game, and we recognize that. But the spirit we played with, the relentlessness we played with, the fight that we played with makes me know the kind of guys we have on our football team. We're going to keep coaching them, and we're going to keep teaching them, and we're going to keep trying to get things right. And they're going to respond the right way."
The Cowboys have at least one more game without Tony Romo as the starting quarterback. He has missed the last six with a fractured collarbone and has one more week before he is eligible to return from the 8-week IR list.
But always trying to stay in the moment, Garrett likely won't allow his team to look too far down the road, especially with one more game in between Romo's return.
[embeddedad0]Asked about talking to his team about the "big picture," Garrett said it happens often, but usually within the context of getting back to the present.
"Oh, I think we always try to provide perspective for our team," Garrett said. "Each week we try to do that, wrapping up the previous game and getting ready for the next game. I don't think this week will be any different. I think you have to evaluate what happened last night against Philadelphia. You look at what was good about it, and there was some good in there. Then you look at some of the things that prevented us from winning the game, and we have to address those and get those things right and get ready for the next challenge."
The next challenge is the first of two straight trips to Florida. The Cowboys square off against Tampa Bay on Sunday, followed by a Nov. 22 game in Miami, where it's expected Romo will start.
The Cowboys are in last place in the NFC East at 2-6, but only 2.5 games behind first-place New York (5-4). The Eagles are now 4-4, while the Redskins stand at 3-5, with two games remaining against the Cowboys.