Owner Jerry Jones expects more than to just “stay afloat” until Tony Romo and Dez Bryant get back on the field. Jones took exception to the term when asked about his expectations over the next few weeks without his two stars.
In fact, the Cowboys can win, Jones insists, while Romo and Bryant are sidelined.
“Well, that seems a little less than I think when you say ‘stay afloat,’” Jones said Thursday at practice. “We’ve got several players on this team who are really excelling. Their arrows are going up. They’re not trying to ‘stay afloat.’ They’re trying to get out here on an individual basis and for the team, and really make us have a better team that we had on the field last week. So as much as anything, I’m excited about the young players and their improvement. There is no question, and I’m not trying to be philosophical, but there is no question that human beings if they will, if they have it, excel if called on in trying times and in challenging times. There’s no question they are. So to have the fire of trying times can really be a blessing. We just don’t like to turn it on, because if it’s real it usually means you’ve had your setback. Well, we’ve had our setback, so I think you’re going to see a lot of young players making up for the fact that we don’t have these players.
“The other thing I’d say is there’s no doubt I know how to live for tomorrow. As a matter of fact, I have been one of the biggest daydreamers than anyone has ever seen. Growing up I could play a complete football game in my front yard with just me, and I could play a complete World Series in the backyard with just me and broom pole and a ping pong ball. I know how to daydream. I think that this is the kind of thing that fits itself in dreaming about the story that we could have here. I can write the story… of what success would be and how it would mean for Jason, and how an achieving team and a team that really comes in and excels during these trying times, what it do and what it would mean to us as we get these guys back. I’m dead serious. It’s a challenge. Sick about not having Tony, but thinking that we could use this to an advantage and maybe even have a better team at the end of the year. I believe that.”
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The Cowboys are only 6-9 without Romo since he became the starter in 2006. They lost the only game he missed last season with Brandon Weeden was 18-for-33 for 183 yards with a touchdown, two interceptions and a 55.5 passer rating.
The Cowboys believe that a solid defense and the league’s best offensive line will help Weeden succeed this time.
“I do think that we can win, yes, but competition is going to have a lot to say about it,” Jones said. “I certainly know that if Tony Romo were not available to us at any time, I know what all of our expectations are. The wagon train has got to get to California as Barry Switzer used to say. We may burn these wagons as we go, float the Mississippi but anyway, the wagon train has got to go not trying to be cut. But, no, the team the Cowboys, we have figure out ways to excel and win, and when we do it should be inspirational.”
Romo went on short-term injured reserve, keeping him out at least seven games while his fractured left collarbone heals. Bryant missed last week’s game after having surgery on his right foot. He is expected to miss at least five more weeks.
But with Romo and Bryant expected back before the end of the season, along with the returns of Randy Gregory, Rolando McClain and Greg Hardy in the next couple of weeks, Jones’ expectations for the Cowboys haven’t changed.
The Cowboys are all in for this season.
“If we improve within because they’re not here and then we have them come back, which will make us better when they do return, then I think we’ve got a chance to be a better team,” Jones said. “That’s certainly the way I look at it. But from the standpoint of them not being here and falling off the map, I don’t see that at all. The game is not designed that way. There’s too many people that have to get on the field and play the game. Now do we depend inordinately on Tony Romo? Yes. There’s no question. But we’re going to have him. We just don’t have him right now.”