- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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The surprising thing to many Dallas Cowboys fans is that Jerry Jones appears to be making good on his vow to exercise more patience. No way can Jones be happy about a second straight season ending with a loss in a Week 17 winner-take-all game for the NFC East title, but Jones is choosing to remember the way he felt about his team two weeks ago. Then, the stories were of toughness, and the Cowboys' ability to overcome adversity and pull games out in the end. The talk was of the way they were handling injury, and off-field tragedy, and of the improved sense of responsibility Tony Romo was showing with the ball.
It would be easy to forget all of that in the wake of Romo's horrible three-interception performance against the Washington Redskins on Sunday night, and many fans seem to have reverted to the same old gripes about the "same old Cowboys," wondering why Romo and head coach Jason Garrett don't get the boot. But as Todd Archer writes here, Jones is making the right decision by being patient with Garrett, who watched seven head coaches lose their jobs Monday and knows he doesn't have an unlimited amount of time to turn these Cowboys into a playoff team:
"We have to understand there's history and precedent in these kinds situations as you're trying to put a program together," Garrett said. "You're going to get knocked back. You're not always going to achieve it in Year 1 or Year 2, but you keep doing things the right way and you will break through."
How Garrett is attempting to structure this program is the correct way to become successful. Surround yourself with the "right kind of guys," as he likes to say, who love football, add foundation pieces through the draft and supplement with free-agent picks, big and small, and you will win.
It takes time, but it could be worth the wait.
Garrett has one more year, or he will suffer the same fate as the seven coaches who were fired Monday.
I think Todd's points are well made. It's tough to see the progress this year's team showed through the prism of that final-game loss. It might even have been better for Garrett if his team had fallen short against the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers in those two tough December games, then won the last two. They'd still have fallen short, but the anger over the missed opportunity wouldn't feel so fresh.
They didn't, though. The Cowboys did enough, in spite of their many deficiencies, to put themselves in position to play for the division title for a second year in a row. That fact can't be overlooked. Yes, the whole thing is very complicated, and fans who are mad don't feel like stepping back and taking a big-picture look at the season that just happened. You don't want to remember how improved you thought Garrett looked as a game coach after the Pittsburgh game while you're screaming about how Mike Shanahan just took him to school. You don't want to remember how impressed you were with Romo's season turnaround because what he did Sunday was the same thing you feel like he always does in those big spots. It hurts. Totally understandable.
Credit Jones with seeing the big picture through his own disappointment, and for giving Garrett a third full season to implement and burnish the "program" of which he speaks. The Cowboys knew all along they were a team with holes, and now they'll get to work on adding those pieces they desperately need on both lines, among other places. But add them they will. And once they do, Jones will rightfully expect to see improvement in 2013. And if Garrett were to end up 8-8 again next year, this concept of progress might be as tough to sell to the owner as it is right now to sell to the fans.