Coming off a playoff win last year, the Cowboys came into this season thinking about the Super Bowl. With the game being played in their house, it was a heavy burden for any team to have to bear. It’s safe to say that the Cowboys weren’t ready for that challenge. Despite the fact that the Cowboys roster is filled with Pro Bowlers they got off to a 1-7 start and it caused Jerry Jones to do something that he had never done before, fire a head coach midway through the season.
It took them eight games but last week the Cowboys played the way that everyone expected them to all season long and it’s no surprise that they were able to do it after they fired their head coach, Jerry Jones laid into them, and a new voice was running things in Big D.
Jason Witten joined ESPN Radio Dallas with Galloway and Company to talk about the differences between Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett, what happened at the beginning of the season, Wade Phillips getting fired, and what they have to do to build off the momentum that they built against the Giants,
On the toughness of practice with Jason Garrett:
“It’s good. It’s amazing how it can get blown up out of proportion. He’s done a great job, he’s laid out some guidelines, and been clear with his message, and how we’re gonna go forward and the way we’re gonna go about it. Guys have bought into it.”
On what happened earlier this year under Wade Phillips:
“I think games can be decided by a few plays. If you look at the Green Bay game, it was a couple of plays that happened there. They go down there and score, then they come back, get the kickoff, return the kickoff, and score. Some dramatic things happened to change the outcome of it and the game got away from us quick. Then you’re playing catch-up, the ball gets batted down and the interception goes the other way. I’m not denying that we didn’t play good up there because we didn’t. We didn’t show up at all.”
On players playing with more intensity after Phillips was fired:
“It shouldn’t get to that point. If you’re gonna go out there and get beat, effort should never be questioned, the way you play, the energy, you have to play that way to give yourself a chance to be successful. Anything less than that, regardless of what the score is, where it’s at, what time, or the record, that’s the mentality that you have to have. But you’re right it was different. I think it started on Monday with Jerry. I think some guys eyes were opened by his clear message to the team and it followed up with what Jason had to say and then the way we went about it during the course of the week. We knew it was going to be a good team and nobody is gonna feel sorry for you because you’re a 1-7 team.”
On whether or not he thinks the team quit:
“I don’t think the guys quit. He had a clear message and he stuck with that throughout this whole process. I think back when we were 1-2 or 1-3 and he was consistent with that message and people were saying hey something’s gotta be different, something’s gotta change, he’s gotta do something. If you go back a year, we start out 0-2 in December and that consistency then you go and win the rest of them and beat Philly at the end of the year then the next week in the playoffs so I guess there’s a couple of different ways you can look at it. You can say oh he needs to create a spark, but if you go back a year he was the same guy, did the same things, and guys kinda bought in and say hey it’s on us, we need to do a better job and we went to New Orleans and won that game. I think we just didn’t execute well enough and it’s unfortunate that we dug ourselves a hole. It was two or three plays here and there throughout every game. That’s not an excuse. That’s the NFL. It’s what it comes down to. I think that’s what’s so frustrating is to be in this situation and know you let a great opportunity slip.”
You guys got Wade Phillips fired:
“Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that was throughout the course of the whole week, obviously Jerry had a clear message and Jason did a great job, but there was a lot of emotion. A guy that you laid it out for and he laid it out for you for four years, we had some success. I’d say for the core group of us the most success we’ve had was under him and to see him lose his job over it is emotional and its tough. He believed in his players, had a philosophy of how he was going to go about it, and we were pretty successful under it. We’re definitely responsible for it and it shouldn’t be misled by now that Jason, his coming over they’re winning now that Jason has taken over. He’s done a great job but it’s unfortunate that it’s gotten to this point.”