IRVING -- Jerry Jones says he has a team with a "fragile psyche," and when asked if he agreed with that assessment, veteran Cowboys defensive end Kenyon Coleman said he didn't know.
"I'd have to watch the film first," Coleman said.
Apparently Coleman is also a coach, or a coach in the making. His answer is NFL-speak for "Yes."
This team may be fragile, but it is proving to at least be resilient. Unlike previous years where the Dallas Cowboys had a fair amount of quit in them, this team actually appears willing to fight despite its circumstances. The way this league is set up a good quarterback with a broken rib and a fair amount of fight -- not the Mayweather kind -- will keep you around it all season.
Jason Garrett's team has successfully adopted the no excuses, "next man up" cliché that can actually work provided the players believe it, and if the QB is both good and breathing.
BTW -- the fake website www.AnybodyButRomo.net apparently was taken down after Sunday's game. Romo gingerly walked around Monday at Valley Ranch, and looked as if he had just been released from the hospital after delivering twins.
"I've never seen a quarterback play with broken ribs before," backup QB Jon Kitna said Monday.
How about a punctured lung? Any and all "Tony ain't tough enough" statements from any Cow hater, or Cow lover, is forever shelved after his performance in San Fran.
How could any player who has been with this team since 2010 not have a slightly fragile psyche, even with two good lungs?
They have a star on their helmets, which instantly inflates their self worth beyond reasonable expectation.
They believed, and were told by the media and their own head coach they were wonderful only to turn out awful before rallying under a different guy to think maybe they aren't quite so terrible.
The Cowboys have seen, firsthand, how close they are to a top 10 pick in the 2012 Draft, if their starting quarterback can't go.
Their No. 1 receiver is hurt, their No. 2 receiver has a sore hammy, leaving a former reality TV star to potentially line up as a starter against the Redskins in the home opener Monday night. Cue the Disney soundtrack in three, two, one...
Their ground game, even when starter Felix Jones is healthy, is about as effective as a run out of the Victory formation. The Cowboys' rushing attack averages 2.3 yards per attempt, good for dead last in the league.
The interior of their offensive line is not what the scouts would call "any good."
Their secondary has guys named One Year Deal and Tries Hard.
And don't get me started on the kicker.
You do not need to watch game film to realize any of the above obstacles could derail a team.
But they are buying into their coaches' approach: If you work, even if you aren't good, you can be competitive. If you are competitive, you can win.
"It's the hardest-working team I've ever been around," Coleman said.
Most vets toss this out, but considering Kenyon has been around for 10 years I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Two weeks into the season, the Cowboys are what we thought they would be: 1-1.
They just did to the 49ers what the Jets did to them: Rally against an inferior opponent to win a game they should not have.
Two games into a season is too early to determine the identity of a team, but with 14 games remaining we all need to settle in and accept that this will be the norm.
The Cowboys are 6-4 under Garrett, and the past eight of those games have been decided by three points or less. This is what Red ball do.
The Cowboys are playing this thing so close to the edge that every game figures to be a teeth-gnashing, four-letter-word-tossing affair. And without semblance of a running game, it is only going to get harder.
This team can be good, but they do not have the talent to run away from opponents. Everything is going to be the fourth quarter, maybe more than any other NFL team.
"We practice fourth-quarter situations all the time," Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee said. "Jason Garrett talks to us all the time about winning the fourth quarter."
The way this team is, both health and talent wise, that is the only way. Keep it close, keep it close, don't screw up, make a play, win.
Every year the NFL's middle class has some team win 10 or 11 games because it gets fat on a weaker schedule, and wins all of the close games.
The Cowboys can be that team.
They should not need to watch the film to believe that.
Follow Mac Engel on Twitter @MacEngelProf
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697