Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 5/24/12
IRVING, Texas Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he feels the "window closing" on his team making a run at the Super Bowl. But it seems like a window has to open at some point before it can begin to close. Other than Wade Phillips' 2007 campaign with a lot of Bill Parcells carryovers, it's been years since the Cowboys could reasonably expect to make noise in the playoffs. Now, Jones is forced to roll out the tired rally cry of how the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants were able to win Super Bowls following 9-7 records in the regular-season. Of course, those teams actually built momentum down the stretch and remained hot in the postseason. The Cowboys seem to peak in October and then slump when the stakes become higher. On Wednesday, we gathered at Valley Ranch to witness a grueling day of organized team activities or OTAs as the kids like to refer to them. It was a hopeful day unless you were interested in observing the latest rookie class. Due to injuries and academic requirements (seriously), only two of the seven drafted players were able to participate fully. The highly regarded fifth-round pick, Danny Coale, suffered a broken foot on the first day of OTAs on Tuesday and third-round pick Tyrone Crawford sat out Wednesday's session with a calf injury. It's a good thing the Cowboys have one of the best medical staffs in the NFL because this organization seems like a magnet for injury-prone players (also see Class of 2011). The good news is that rookie cornerback Mo Claiborne was so engaged in practice that athletic trainers had to pull him off the field at times. And free-agent bonus baby Brandon Carr looked pretty solid at left cornerback. When I asked Carr if he'd reached out to incumbent starter Mike Jenkins, who is skipping these voluntary workouts, he honestly acted like he couldn't pick the disgruntled cornerback out of a lineup. "I'm still learning names," said Carr with a straight face. Claiborne and Carr couldn't care less about the Cowboys' window of opportunity because they haven't been involved in this mess. Hopefully they will join talented young players such as DeMarco Murray and Sean Lee in delivering the organization from a culture of entitlement and excuse-making. When I asked Claiborne on the night of the draft whether he knew how many playoff games the Cowboys had won over the past 15 seasons, he didn't have a clue. And that's a good thing. But suddenly the club's eternally optimistic owner seems to hear the clock ticking. He's worried the core players for the Cowboys might leave a legacy of unfulfilled promise. "Well, my window is getting shorter. Time goes by," Jones told the NFL Network earlier this week. "I do feel real pressure because we do have players not only in Tony Romo, but Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware, to leave out several that are in the prime of their career. And we need to strike and strike soon with those guys." Surely Jones isn't starting to worry about his own longevity. Like it or not, I have him penciled in as the face of the franchise for another 15 years or so. Jerry will be pulling the strings long after Romo and Witten are gone, so he should spare us from this sentimental storyline. He went on to indicate that head coach Jason Garrett agreed with him about this "window" theory, but the Princeton man went a different direction Wednesday. "My experience in this league as a player and a coach has been that the best players and the best teams have a sense of urgency every single day in all that they do," Garrett said. "You can talk about an OTA in May or a minicamp or a walkthrough or meeting or early in training camp. Whatever they do, the best guys have urgency to them. The best guys have urgency to them. "So that's been my experience. We're always trying to create an urgent atmosphere around here regardless of who our players are, and that's our approach." It was a good moment for a coach who excels in saying not much of anything in public. Instead of panicking about the window closing on the likes of Romo and Ware, it's time to actually establish some type of foundation for the future. It's embarrassing that Jones' entire platform centers on the Cowboys sneaking into the playoffs and then getting hot. Maybe that happened for the Packers and Giants, but do you think those organizations ever set out to sort of muddle through the regular-season before catching fire? The Cowboys too often take the wing and a prayer approach. Through unbelievable luck and solid scouting, they connected on undrafted free agents such as Romo and Miles Austin. But that success has gotten in the way of common sense. With last year's breakout player Laurent Robinson departing for big money, Jones is now crowing about second-year wide receiver Andre Holmes out of Hillsdale (rural southern Michigan) College and an undrafted rookie guard with a degenerative knee condition out of Memphis named Ronald Cleary. There's certainly nothing wrong with taking a shot at these guys, but too often Jones wants to predict greatness for them. The good news is that Romo and Garrett don't seem beholden to this "window closing" hysteria. They've hit upon the novel idea of always feeling a sense of urgency. With that approach, maybe the Cowboys could actually open a window at Valley Ranch at some point.
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