Familiar refrain from Garrett, Cowboys

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
9:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Jason Garrett's message remains the same. Unfortunately, so do the results.

The press conference the day after the Dallas Cowboys' 8-8 2013 season ended -- finishing with a loss in the de facto NFC East title game -- sounded a lot like the press conference the day after the Cowboys' 2012 8-8 season ended with a loss in the de facto NFC East title game.

If nothing else, give Garrett credit for consistency.

[+] EnlargeJason Garrett
AP Photo/Tom HauckAfter a third straight 8-8 season, Dallas' Jason Garrett made several key changes within his staff.
"We understand it is a bottom-line business," Garrett said. "We did not get the job done. We have to live with that. Our staff has to live with that. Our players have to live with that. We get that. And we understand that. ...

"But what you have to do is you got to get back and you got to keep swinging. You got to keep battling, keep giving yourself opportunities, keep believing that you are going to break through."

The Cowboys are three full .500 seasons and an eight-game interim stint into Garrett's process. (Actually, it seems "program" has replaced "process" as Garrett's go-to word.) It has yet to produce any tangible evidence of progress, much less a playoff appearance.

However, Jerry Jones is exercising extreme patience with his hand-picked head coach, who survived the NFL's Black Monday despite the Cowboys' longest playoff drought of Jones' 25-year ownership tenure.

"I think our players believe in our program," said Garrett, who hopefully will have more say in the significant changes that will be made to his coaching staff this offseason. "I think when you watch us play you see that they believe in our program and what we're trying to get accomplished. That's a big part of the identity of the football team that you're trying to establish.

"Now, we haven't gotten the job done, so we have to live with that reality. But how you do things matters. Bottom line matters. But how you do things, how you play matters. You have to continue to build on that and believe you're going to break through in the other areas to take the next step."

Jones declared on the opening day of training camp that this wasn't an "Armageddon year" for Garrett and stuck to his guns.

Jones can point to enough positives, such as the rebuilt offensive line, to prove to himself that the Cowboys are improving under Garrett regardless of their record. He's convinced himself that the Cowboys will benefit from all of Garrett's growing pains as a coach, conveniently ignoring that Dallas blew two fourth-quarter double-digit leads in part because of questionable game management again this season.

At some point, however, it stands to reason that Garrett will need results to keep his process/program in place.

"You want that in Year 1, you want that right now," Garrett said. "But you have to keep banging away, you have to keep fighting. When that doesn't happen, you have to keep believing.

"There are great stories in all sports, really in all walks of life, with people who continue to persist and keep battling and scratching and clawing and fighting and they break through and they have success, and we believe that's going to happen here."

The program better bear fruit in Garrett's fourth full season.

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