There is a chill in the air in many parts of the country, and for fans of the Dallas Cowboys that trademark of December is not due to the march of Old Man Winter across the landscape. Our beloved Boys just don't seem to fare well during the final month of the NFL season. That is a well publicized fact.
Consider, if you will, the fact that in the 20 season since Jimmy Johnson stepped down/was fired as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys the team has managed to have a winning record during the month only four times. That is 20% folks; unacceptable by any standards, let alone the ones by which we measure football success here in Cowboys Universe. The December collapse is not a myth, it is real.
If there is one bright spot in the darkness that is the year's final month, it is that two of the four winning records during that time span belong to Jason Garrett. The Rooster went 3-2 during both the 2010 and 2012 seasons. If the pattern holds true, then Garrett should experience a successful December this year. It is unfortunate that football seasons do not follow patterns. The 2014 Cowboys are going to have to step up and take it if they want to experience success.
This year's squad will have an opportunity to write their own story and it will not be based on history or patterns. It will be based solely on what they do on the gridiron. Each player on the team knows what he must do.
"Each season is a new football team. You're going to write your own story each year with that football team. I've said it a long time: If your team is good enough, you're going to get stops and you're going to be able to move the ball and go score, you're going to be a good team in December. And if it's hard to get stops and it's hard to score, it's probably going to be a tough year." - Tony Romo
Romo's teammate Jason Witten feels the same way. He has spent his entire career dealing with the same talk of the "December collapse" every season, and he realizes the only way to stop the inevitable talk is for 53 men to collectively step up and put an end to it by making a change for the better.
"But until you change it they're going to continue to happen. That's why I think we're all anxious to change the outcome of it." - Jason Witten
It all comes down to opportunity and taking advantage of the chances that they are given. From what is being said, there is a different approach this year, a dedication to going out and closing the season out strong for a change.
"It's a great opportunity. It's a great opportunity to get to where we want to go. I think we all understand that. We're just going to continue keep working hard and try to get better and win out in December." - Dez Bryant
To do that the Cowboys are going to have to get better in every aspect of the game. Even the little things can make a big difference when the game and possibly the entire season is on the line. This is a case where the axiom "Perfect practice makes perfect" will fit the bill. Bryant expanded on his thoughts and gave insight into how Dallas is preparing to close out the campaign.
"Everybody wants to get better. Just by the little things. Not making the cold weather a big issue. Just go out there and understand what's important. That's the opportunity that we have to go out and get into the playoffs."
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Talk is cheap. Until the Cowboys go out and get it done, they will still be viewed as the same old Dallas Cowboys. The power to rectify that lies with 53 individuals who will go out on the field each Sunday (or in this week's case, Thursday night) and do battle, and within the coaching staff who will prepare and lead them into the war that is the National Football League. They will not return unscathed, but with the right amount of skill and dedication the Dallas Cowboys just might start to remove the curse of December.