IRVING, Texas – Jerry Jones was laughed at by some and criticized by others earlier this week for claiming that the Dallas Cowboys were evolving into a championship contender. While Jones' optimism is admirable, coming after a loss that put the Cowboys under .500, the talks of a championship felt misplaced.
But don't count Jason Witten as one who felt there was anything unusual about Jones' comments. On Thursday, Witten was asked if he agreed with Jones' message.
"You mean about us contending for a championship?" Witten said. "Yeah, every man in this room should believe that. If they don't, then (they should) get out of here."
In the offseason, Witten made headlines by claiming that the Cowboys' championship window was closing soon. But the Pro Bowl tight end refused to entertain the idea that the window was already closed.
"That doesn't mean we don't have to go prove it," Witten said. "You've got to go prove it every week. There're a lot games where we have done good things, and there're a lot of things we need to improve on."
Witten pointed out that there are ebbs and flows to an NFL season and that it is too early to say a talented team isn't competing for a championship.
"There's a lot of good football left," Witten said. "Did the New York Giants stink at 7-7 (last season)? That's the way this league goes. I'm not saying that's the formula to do it; you've got to start winning games. I think the mentality is 'Let's get it corrected, we have the guys in this room that can do it, now you've got to go show it.'"
Head coach Jason Garrett was much less interested in talking about Jones' comments on Wednesday.
"We are not focused on that," Garrett said. "We are focused on meeting Wednesday and preparing for Carolina on Sunday. That is where our emphasis is as players and coaches."
While it is commonly believed by some Cowboy fans that Garrett coaches with the burden of Jones over his shoulder, Garrett also assured the media that the focus is always on the task at hand.
"We think Jerry Jones is an outstanding owner," Garrett said. "We appreciate everything he does for our football team, but our focus is practicing well today."