It has finally arrived. Training camp is set to begin in Oxnard, CA for the Dallas Cowboys. As such, today they held their annual press conference to get a sense of what the Cowboys brain-trust is thinking heading into this all-important part of the offseason. Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and Mike McCarthy took some questions and gave some answers. Here is what they had to say. (All answers are paraphrased and not actual quotes).
Jerry Jones is excited to be in Oxnard
The Dallas Cowboys owner, president, and general manager began things by sort of welcoming everyone back to Oxnard. He noted that it was important for the Cowboys to show that they are back to business. He added that the organization believes Oxnard is one of the best places in the world to get a team together.
Jones added how important it was for the Cowboys to have their fans in attendance last season. He said it is a privilege to be associated with something as high-profile as the Cowboys are.
Jerry said that the team has had as many challenges to get to camp as he has experienced in his time with the Cowboys. He said the organization is under protocol and noted that there is a handful - he specified five players - who have yet to commit to vaccination. Jerry believes they will be able to play anybody they want to play at the Hall of Fame game.
Mike McCarthy shared that he personally was not initially 100% on board with vaccination but that after listening to people within the medical community that he made the conscious decision to get vaccinated himself.
Dak back from injury and contract
McCarthy said it was great to get him back on every level. He noted he’s the same guy everyday and is in the facility everyday. McCarthy also noted the new contract for Dak is a reward for performance on Sundays, but also ups the responsibilities from Monday through Saturday, and that Dak is up to that with his excellent leadership.
Participation of players has been important
McCarthy noted that participation from the Cowboys since they broke the offseason was incredible and that it was leading up to the offseason program as well. He noted that the team is significantly better and has learned how to function virtually and that they were able to get through all installs. He added that the team is looking at training camp as a bit of a review and getting into game management earlier than usual.
Dak Prescott participation
McCarthy added that Dak Prescott will participate in team drills unless a medical issue crops up.
The head coach joked that he about wrecked his truck when Jerry Jones called him to let him know that the team is going to be on Hard Knocks this season. He said the team’s focus is on establishing a winning culture and noted that this is the team’s first opportunity to have a true training camp since he has been around.
McCarthy joked about the photo of Joe Looney wearing Ezekiel Elliott’s jersey a few years ago, but he added that Zeke looks great right now. He said he has been great in the classroom this offseason as well. He added that Elliott has been a great example for the team’s young players.
Jerry’s expectations for this team
The owner said the hope is that with returning players from injury that the offense will be humming like it was at the beginning of last year. He noted that the defense should be a very different thing this year. He noted they added size and speed and that they have the personnel in place to make the defense very different this season.
Was last season an aberration?
Given that last year was broken in a number of ways for the Cowboys it is difficult to evaluate. McCarthy mentioned that he sees it as both an aberration and an opportunity that they had to see where the team was flawed. He added that any time you have adversity that it is going to be something you grow and learn from.
Stephen Jones added that he thinks you are sticking your head in the sand if you don’t view at as both an opportunity to learn and an aberration. He went into detail about the number of injuries the team went through, but acknowledged the needed changes on defense that the team made this offseason.
Resources at cornerback
Stephen Jones noted that the team made a sizable commitment to the cornerback position in the draft. He said that a lot of people expected them to walk away with one of the top corners in the first round but that they are thrilled with Micah Parsons. He added that they are always looking to improve the roster whenever and however they can, but they field really good about the vets they have and the new additions.
Potential new leaders
The Cowboys lost leaders this offseason in Tyrone Crawford and Sean Lee. McCarthy said that the answer for that needs to be organic which is why he’s excited to get on the grass so that opportunities for leadership present themselves. He said even rookies can lead by working hard and trying to connect and emulate the veterans.
Jerry Jones noted that he has been really impressed by the way that Randy Gregory has stayed the course with legitimate life challenges. Jones added that Gregory addresses his challenges in exemplary fashion. He said he is seeing Randy take the logic and the mentality that he has applied to different circumstances and applying it to being the professional player that he has the chance to be. He also noted Gregory has a lot of tread left on his tires.
Combination for success
Asked how the Cowboys can get back to winning Super Bowls, Jerry Jones was cautious not to make any comparisons, but noted that the team has the right combination of youth, talent, and success. He again reiterated that he isn’t comparing what the Cowboys currently have to the rosters of the 1990s.
Stephen Jones added that he is high on the nucleus that the Cowboys have in Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and the like.
McCarthy also added that he believes there are some positions on the roster where the Cowboys are so talented in his mind that there are going to be some difficult decisions made.
The fine the Cowboys received
Mike McCarthy said that he had a call with the league office regarding the fine that the Cowboys were given over this offseason. He didn’t specifically say this, but he intimated it was a result of 7-9 plays where the majority involved younger players.
It is a better world to be naive
Jerry Jones talked about being naive and noted that he is often regarded as being that way. He said - through some emotion - that it is a better world to be naive than to be skeptical and negative at all times. He stressed his positive outlook and how that has influenced decisions that he has made. He said what he has before in that he would do anything that he possibly could to win another Super Bowl.
Jimmy Johnson likely won’t enter the Ring of Honor this year
After walking us down memory road with some stories involving Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer that featured a few expletives. Barry apparently originally asked Jerry how he and Jimmy “messed” things up between them, then Jerry Jones was asked if Jimmy Johnson will enter the Ring of Honor this year and didn’t specifically answer, but noted that he doesn’t want to take away from the shine of Jimmy entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year.
So it doesn’t sound like it. But when asked further is he would put Johnson in the Ring of Honor at some point, Jerry demurred and said “let’s not take the fun out of it” meaning it certainly could be happening in the future.