In fact, during the NFL season, the road ends with the next game. Garrett dutifully and methodically took questions during his Wednesday morning press conference and gently dismissed the big picture ramifications of the Cowboys’ game against the Philadelphia Eagles at 3:25 p.m. Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
The first-place Cowboys (7-5) can put a stranglehold on the NFC East with a win against the Eagles (6-6). It would give Dallas a two-game lead with three left against the Colts (6-6), Buccaneers (5-7) and Giants (4-8).
“We really don’t think in those terms,” Garrett said. “The biggest thing we try to do is focus on each day’s preparation and go play our best on Sunday. That’s really what we try to do each week. If, all of a sudden, you say this game is more important than that one, what we’re you doing on that one? You need to prepare the right way. This is pro football, you get 16 chances to do this. Make sure your preparation right, make sure you put it all out there every Sunday afternoon.”
Garrett has always been a master of the “one game at a time” ethos. When his team is playing poorly, it can be excruciatingly annoying to many fans. When the Cowboys are winning, however, he sounds like a coaching sage.
His message never changes.
“It’s one we preach every day, 100 times a day, every way that we can, it’s about being our best. It’s about focusing on us, on the task at hand, the task at hand today is Wednesday’s practice,” he said. “So we did a good job this morning in our meetings and our walk-through and now you have to have a good practice today. That’s something they hear from me and our coaches really every day.”
For Garrett, the philosophy, which is certainly not unique to coaches of all sports, is on focusing on what’s in front of his team.
“My experience in life and in football is that the best players, the best teams, they come to work every day. They prepare the right way every day. They prepare to the highest level,” said Garrett, after he was asked a third question about ramifications of Sunday’s outcome. “They try to put good days on top of each other and they get ready for what that challenge is on Sunday. And the best teams do that. They play play after play after play, through success, through adversity, week after week after week, through success, through adversity. And it doesn’t really matter who the opponent is. That’s really what the approach we try to instill in our team is. Each and every day, coming to be your best. Stack good days on top of each other, embrace the challenge on the weekend.”