OXNARD (AP) — Jerry Jones liked the recurring theme for the Dallas Cowboys early in his ownership tenure, when they won three Super Bowls in a four-year span.
These days, the talk starting each camp seems to be about a sense of urgency, changes in the team and again getting a fresh start. There has been only one playoff victory the past 15 years, with a 120-120 regular-season record in that span that includes their 8-8 mark a year ago.
When the Cowboys landed in California for training camp this weekend, one of the first things veteran tight end Jason Witten said after getting off the plane was that this season “can’t be the same old story.”
And Jones talked this offseason about a shrinking window of opportunity for the Cowboys to contend for a championship with core players in their prime like Witten, Tony Romo and DeMarcus Ware.
“I want to officially close the window to closing the window. That was offseason talk,” Jones said Sunday, the day before the team’s first full-squad workout in the owner’s annual “State of the Cowboys” talk. “I do feel a sense of urgency, though. But more in the framework of we’re nearer when we open up against the Giants. We’ve got to do better, we’ve got to be tougher.”
Another disappointing Cowboys season ended on New Year’s Day night at the New York Giants, who won the season finale to clinch the NFC East title at 9-7 and went on to win their second Super Bowl in five years.
Jones said the Cowboys have improved their talent level since last year.
They spent big money to get free agent cornerback Brandon Carr and traded up for the sixth overall pick in the draft to get All-American cornerback Morris Claiborne. They got a top fullback and gave multiyear deals to two potential starting guards.
So is all that enough to make a Super Bowl run in 2012?
“Well, if nine wins can win the Super Bowl, certainly I’m optimistic,” said Jones, quickly pointing out that wasn’t a prediction for the victory total. “But we see what we’re dealing with. We do understand though the timing.”
Dallas won at least 12 games during its Super Bowl-winning seasons (1992, 1993, 1995).
As for the comments by Witten, Jones believes it is good for young players to hear things like that from a veteran who has been so good but has not been able to be part of a Super Bowl championship.
Coach Jason Garrett believes Witten spoke “from the fact that as a leader on this football team over the last eight, nine, 10 years, he’s a guy who understands we’ve been close at different times but haven’t gotten the job done.”
Jones said every player was signed and in camp Sunday.
That included third-year receiver Dez Bryant, who could face NFL or team discipline after his arrest two weeks ago for allegedly assaulting his mother during an argument. His mother, who made a 911 call, has since said that she doesn’t want authorities to pursue family violence charges against her son who is only 14 years older than she is.
Garrett repeated what he said earlier this week about the Cowboys supporting Bryant, their first-round pick in 2010, and his family.
Jones said he was taking the situation “very serious” but had not yet spoken to Bryant about what happened. The team owner said it was premature to discuss possible punishment since the team and the league were still gathering information.
Without getting specific about for what or long how, Jones said Bryant has been involved in the team’s counseling program. But Jones also pointed out that a lot of players take advantage of different kinds of counseling available.
“There is no doubt that Dez Bryant is exceptionally talented. It has certainly served to give him the consideration that’s he’s gotten frankly in life. And I think he, like us all, have got to realize where your bread is buttered,” Jones said.
“You’ve got to realize that that is not there for you if you do not adhere to society’s rules. He’s got to realize that,” he said.
Jones said Bryant and the team know controversy is not good overall for the Cowboys and is not good for the league, and that there are consequences.
“And we will deal with those as we move along and get more information,” he said.
NOTES: The Cowboys and Oakland, who play each other in an exhibition game Aug. 13, were the last two NFL teams to report to training camp. The Giants, where the Cowboys play the NFL’s season opener Sept. 5, reported to camp Thursday. Garrett said there will be “plenty of time” to get his team ready to play. … Garrett said CB Mike Jenkins, who is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, is getting better and making progress. The coach is hopeful that Jenkins, the disgruntled former Pro Bowler who asked for a trade, can hopefully get on the field in the “next week or two” and play in an exhibition game or two during the preseason. … At the end of the news conference, a Cowboys official announced the official Oxnard temperature at 64 degrees. That was 40 degrees cooler than in North Texas.