OXNARD, Calif. -- Filled with optimism for the upcoming season, the Dallas Cowboys opened their training camp with a news conference on a cool, crisp Sunday at the Residence Inn.
So cue the clichés that have been spewed.
The Cowboys like the moves they made in the off-season to build a championship team.
They feel good about the direction they are going.
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It's all part of a process that will be one day at time, starting with the first practice today.
Yada, yada yada.
Save that for somebody else.
The Cowboys are not, nor have they ever been just another organization, and this should not be just another season in what should be a no-excuses now-or-never campaign.
The time is now for the Cowboys to make a return to the glory days with a lengthy playoff, if not a Super Bowl, run.
Consider that this once-proud franchise has won just two playoff games since 1995 -- when it won the last of their three Super Bowl titles in 1990s.
The Cowboys have missed the playoffs the past two years when they won just 14 games combined.
The fans are tired of the struggles, and so are the players.
Tight end Jason Witten summed it up best when he said upon arriving Saturday that it can't be the same old story for the Cowboys.
It's time for them to break the cycle of mediocrity in this organization, which is 120-120 since 1996 and 1-6 in the playoffs.
The current group has a 53-37 mark, plus 1-3 in the playoffs, from mid-2006, when Tony Romo became the starting quarterback
The so-called reasons for the Cowboys' inability to get over the hump are numerous. Sadly they are about as funny as an awkward comment from Jones when you consider the number of other teams that have excelled during that time.
First it was receiver Terrell Owens tearing up the locker room. Then it was coach Wade Phillips being disorganized and too soft. Then it was receiver Roy Williams and Marion Barber underperforming.
Last year, it was the lockout and coach Jason Garrett being unable to implement his system and his teachings, as though the Cowboys were the only team to have to deal with the work stoppage.
The Cowboys have been a team that has not gotten it done when it matters most, whether late in games or late in seasons.
But time has expired for the excuses. The time is now for the Cowboys to get back to the glory days.
"I think Witten's comments, without me speaking for him, stem from fact that as the leader on this football team over the course of the last eight, nine, 10 years, he's a guy who understands we've been close at different times," Garrett said.
"We haven't gotten the job done. It's a point we try to make to our team all the time. It's a bottom-line business. It's a get-the-job-done business. I've heard that from many coaches through the years. I understand that as a coach. I understood that as a player. I think our team understands that."
The Cowboys believe they will be better and thus finally break through, because of the moves they made in the off-season via free agency and the draft to improve the secondary and the offensive line.
Garrett said it will make them better against the pass and better on the ground, which should help a team that blew five fourth-quarter leads last year, when they finished 8-8 and one game out of the playoffs.
A shored-up ground game, led by running back DeMarco Murray, and secondary, including top pick Morris Claiborne and free-agent signee Brandon Carr at cornerback, to go along with Romo playing the best football of his career, and the defense finally knowing Rob Ryan's schemes, should result in a playoff run this season.
Jones agreed, and this time there was no laughing at his response.
"We had no excuses last year, which made it the second-most difficult year for me with the Cowboys," Jones said. "There were no excuses last year for us to not have been knocking at the door, and we are a better team this year."
Well, they better win.
The time is now, and they have no excuses.
Clarence E. Hill Jr.