Jason Garrett placed a mannequin in pads and uniform outside the Dallas Cowboys locker room, reinforcing his idea to the team to treat every opponent as being nameless and faceless.
That especially rings true this week when the Cowboys travel to Philadelphia this Sunday and face former teammate DeMarco Murray.
The Eagles money-whipped Murray in free agency, and he had no decision but to leave the only team he had known up to that point.
The Cowboys would have loved to keep Murray at their price, but that simply didn’t work out. Instead, they were willing to let the guy who led the NFL in rushing and set the franchise’s single-season rushing record in 2014 leave.
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“He’s a great player, always has been a great player in this league,” coach Jason Garrett said. “[Murray] was always very productive for us. He’s a great human being and we were lucky to have him here when he was here.
“That’s the business of the NFL, guys move on to other teams. Now he’s competitor. But we’re focused on ourselves, that’s what we need to do.”
That means not getting too caught up with facing a former teammate who did so much to set the identity of the team last season. Murray rushed for 1,845 yards in the regular season, carrying it a remarkable 392 times, and embodied the toughness the Cowboys desired by not missing a game with a broken hand.
“It’s been around a long time, the nameless, faceless opponent,” Garrett said. “It has nothing to do with this week. It has something to do with every week.
“We have a healthy respect for our opponents. If you play and coach in this league for any amount of time, you realize you have to be good every time you break the huddle, so we have a really healthy respect for the people we play every week, the coaches that we go against, the teams that we go against. But my experience has been if you focus on being the best version of yourself in everything that you do typically things work out well and that’s what we’re trying to do each and every day.”