Everyone was asking the Dallas Cowboys what everyone usually asks NFL players at the end of the preseason.
Do you have confidence about the regular season?
Will Allen thought about it.
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“Confidence is kind of a prideful word,” he said. “I just think we built a solid foundation about where we want to go and what we want to do. I think throughout the year, as we get better and better, then we’ll build more confidence.”
With that, the 10-year veteran safety summed up the significance — and insignificance — of the preseason.
The 2-3 record in the five games doesn’t matter. The 10 takeaways in the five games were nice, but don’t carry over. Just like the slow start by the first-team offense and the special teams mistakes will count zero against the New York Giants on Sept. 8.
What matters is whether the Cowboys put in the “12-personnel” offense and the 4-3 defense to their satisfaction, and found the right players for the schemes.
Are the Cowboys confident about that?
“Not to take away from our abilities or what we can do, but I just think we built a solid foundation,” Allen said. “That’s something to stand on. That’s going to take us into Week 1, and hopefully we can get a victory and take us into Week 2 and Week 3 and Week 4. And I think, as we keep going and we keep building and we keep getting better, then we’ll be more confident in what our defense is and who we are as a team.
“We’ll all see it coming together.”
Coach Jason Garrett pointed to the preseason game when the starters played the most — a convincing victory against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Cowboys had two long scoring drives, allowed fewer than 100 yards (the only time in preseason) and did not commit a turnover.
“We’re a work in progress, really like 31 other teams in the league are,” Garrett said. “I think our team did a really good job coming in in shape, ready to roll. When we started training camp, we had competitive practices. I thought we played well at different times in the preseason. I thought we played well last week against Cincinnati in the game where our starters played the most. That was a positive thing for our football team.”
Cornerback Brandon Carr considered all the time that has passed since the Cowboys flew to California on July 19 and had their first practice two days later, starting training camp earlier than every team except the Miami Dolphins, their Hall of Fame game opponent. It has been six weeks since that reporting date.
“An extra week early, it kind of helped us out,” Carr said. “We needed the extra week to get into the swing of things and learn these guys and get the chemistry. We had fun, so it flew by. Now the time is upon us, so it’s time to go.”
For Carr, it’s an easy turn of the page mentally. The preseason is the preseason. The regular season is the regular season. This year is this year.
“This is what it is,” he said. “This is from last year, all the bitterness you had in your mouth, now it’s time to spit it out and go out here and rewrite the history books. Last year is last year. Now, it’s time to write a new story.”