Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told ESPN Dallas on July 22 "it's all coming together" for his team.
Stephen Jones believes his Dallas Cowboys are turning their fortunes around.
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Jones, the Cowboys' executive vice president, gave ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer a prelude to the team's state of the union address on July 21:
"It's very exciting," Jones told Archer. "And I do believe we've put together a team here that's one of the better ones we've had in quite some time. I believe it's all coming together for us."
Archer stresses this offseason is one of the rare ones where there hasn't been much drama in Dallas. He says the Cowboys could have easily gone 8-8 in 2014 because quarterback Tony Romo went through a second back surgery and the defense was below average.
Jones told Rob Phillips of DallasCowboys.com on July 22 that head coach Jason Garrett reminded his players after that game they need to work hard more than ever this season despite the success they enjoyed:
"We sat in that room and (Garrett) said, 'This team was this team. We're proud of what you did, but you can't just pick up where you left off. We'll have to start from scratch, everybody will have to be accountable, it'll have a different set of faces out there -- there will be new faces. Everybody will have to work harder. Obviously what we did last year was good but it didn't get the job done.'
"So I fully expect the players to take to that message and I think it won't affect them, whether people think we're going to be good, whether they think we're going to be .500 or at the bottom.
"I think our guys are going to be up for the challenge. We've got great leadership on this team.
"We've just got to work hard from Day One. We've got to take care of each other and work hard but stay healthy, and I think good things are going to happen for this group of men."
Dallas lost star running back DeMarco Murray to the Philadelphia Eagles in the offseason. Murray led the NFL in rushing in 2014 with 1,845 yards, per ESPN Dallas.
The Cowboys also lost defensive players Justin Durant, Bruce Carter, Henry Melton, George Selvie and Sterling Moore, per Archer.
Despite the numerous losses, the Cowboys were able to fortify their lineup with several key additions.
Dallas signed former Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, one of the game's best pass rushers. The Cowboys got a break when the NFL reduced Hardy's 10-game suspension to four for violating its personal policy conduct, per Archer.
The Cowboys also brought in top-notch defensive prospects Byron Jones and Randy Gregory via the draft. They also signed undrafted offensive lineman La'el Collins, per ESPN Dallas.
However, the pinnacle of Dallas' offseason has been re-signing wide receiver Dez Bryant to a five-year, $70 million deal. Bryant threatened to boycott training camp and part of the regular season had no long-term deal been reached, per Archer.
Jones emphasized Bryant's value when he spoke with Archer on Wednesday:
"He's such a big part of our team, not only from his skill level and what he does from that standpoint, but he's also an emotional leader for our team as well. People look up to him. He brings a lot of energy to the practice field.
"When you're in the dog days of training camp, he brings everything up another level. It'll be great having him from day one at training camp."
All in all, Jones feels the Cowboys are now more competitive with the key additions, per ESPN Dallas:
"I'm not a big fan of grading an offseason. Everybody thinks when they draft players they did well because they drafted them where they had them on their board. The question is, was your board accurate?
"The same thing with free agents and same thing with signing contracts. It's all about the production on the field. We obviously feel like we got a lot accomplished. Whether we did nor not remains to be seen, and it'll all be in whether we have a successful season.
"We theoretically got done what we felt like we needed to do to make our team better and take the next step. Now we'll see if it happens."
Archer says the Cowboys' state of the union news conference will be held on July 29. Dallas' training camp will run from July 30 to Aug. 27 in Oxnard, Ca., per VisitOxnard.com.
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