IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have finished 8-8 the last two seasons, have missed the playoffs in three of the last four seasons and have one playoff victory since 1996, but optimism is never far away.
“We really feel like we have a team that can compete for a championship,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said.
Jones belief is not just on a roster that has talented players at key spots, but how the NFL landscape has changed over the years.
“The last three teams that won championships barely got into the playoffs and did something about it,” Jones said. “You’re probably not being realistic if you don’t think things have changed in the last 10 years. There’s probably a lot of people who feel they have a chance to win a championship based on the level playing field and how the cap has affected the game. We feel like we have an opportunity to compete for a championship.”
The Cowboys signed quarterback Tony Romo to a six-year extension in the offseason but did not make any high-profile free-agent signings. The Cowboys have changed defensive systems, moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 with coordinator Monte Kiffin, changed offensive playcallers from Jason Garrett to Bill Callahan and changed special teams coaches.
By the end of last season the Cowboys were without six regulars on defense because of injury, including Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and Jay Ratliff, but were in a position to win the NFC East with a victory in the final game at Washington.
“I feel like the teams that won championships last year, we can compete with them and were right there competing with them maybe without a full deck,” Jones said. “We have confidence that this team will win a championship.”