The Dallas Cowboys 2022 season has officially begun. With the opening press conference in Oxnard, California, training camp officially began. Owner Jerry Jones, CEO Stephen Jones and Head Coach Mike McCarthy took to the stage to give their opening salutes and answer questions from the media in attendance and it looks like football again.
There were myriad topics of conversation on Tuesday afternoon, but the fundamental discussion is whether or not the Cowboys are in a better position than they were in 2021. After finishing 12-5 in regular season, Dallas withdrew rather obediently into the playoffs, losing the wild-card contest to San Francisco. The elder Jones, who is still optimistic, gave a detailed response on where the team is after several high-profile departures during the offseason.
Jones emphatically said, “I think we’re in better shape” than at this point last year, when he felt he had the team well positioned for a Super Bowl run.
“I thought we had a team put together last year that was pretty healthy when we got to the playoffs, which has always been my fear, how healthy are we going to be in the playoffs. I thought we had a team put together. . .
. . . We had it pretty well, and in my mind, we had a hell of a ride. We were disappointed, but we took a chance. I think we’re in better shape today to get going than when we sat here this time last year. And I say that following what I said just before that. I thought last year we were lucky to get going and have people in place that if we were healthy enough we could have them. And I think we’re in better shape.
Earlier in the press conference, Jones referenced the old adage that availability was the best ability and how lack of availability was the reason they dumped some of their best earners in the wide Amari Cooper, the tackle right La’el Collins and defensive end Randy Gregory.
“We have lost three very high level players. These players were in our top 10 highest earning players. When you get to this place, I can tell you that your standards rise. Your bar is higher. Your driving is higher. Your attention to the team is higher, not just to your own performance, but to everything. When you have that kind of responsibility, what do you do when you have such a piece of the financial pie. So what I’m trying to say is that these decisions were made more based on availability than capacity, and they were made based on how you came to be unavailable at certain times.
All have missed varying amounts of time over the past two seasons, with injury missing Collins and Gregory several games and Cooper several games. Collins also served a five-game suspension in 2021 and Gregory missed the first six contests of 2020 to reacclimate after being suspended multiple times.
“Availability had everything to do with it. I’m not trying to speak in pig Latin. I try to be straight. I don’t want to put any player down. I like these players personally. But you must have the first thing to know how to win a football game if you want to be in the top 10 paid players in my mind for the team. Check “I” at the door. It’s ‘us’ when you pass.
Whether or not Jones’ remarks are thought to be his true feelings is up to them. Jones’ comments to the annual state of the union should always be taken with a grain of salt, but one thing is certain. He loves his football team and loves being given the pitch to talk about it. Tuesday did not influence any of these assessments.