Jason Garrett: Rookie J.J. Wilcox “needs to keep working”
Garrett said that at this stage the players are constantly struggling to establish to their identity as an individual and as a team, and as a coach it is his duty to help them see the “better version of themselves.” That starts with playing with a sense of pride, as well as considering each play as important as the one before it and the others to follow.
But Garrett indicated that a few of the younger players still need to deliver more consistent effort toward showing that commitment “play after play.”
And as Garrett continued to express his expectations from the players, arrived at the rookie safety Wilcox’s performance in Sunday’s preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins, which was apparent from Garrett’s tone that he was disappointed with.
A third-round pick by the Cowboys in April’s draft, Wilcox has been one of the most talked about players’ in the team’s training camp, got a lot of rave reviews in the first 11 days of the camp for his hitting. But after Wilcox didn't show up as well against the Dolphins, Garrett said he wants to see more sound play from the former Georgia Southern product.
"Wilcox needs to play better. And he saw that on tape. He needs to run better. He needs to get around the ball better,” Garrett said. “He just needs to understand what it takes to play at this level and take all the work he’s doing in practice to the game field.”
“He did some good things in the game. Don’t get me wrong,” Garrett added. “But he can play better and he knows it."
The 22-year-old Wilcox, who was started in relief of the veterans during Sunday’s contest to become the team’s second-leader in tackles, registered six tackles and one on the special teams for the Cowboys. Though Wilcox figured he did “pretty good” overall against Miami, he understands that there is still a lot of room for improvement.
"It's great around for the first time. It was a great first game,” Wilcox said. “There are some things I could have took back but that is always the case.”
“Just be more critical of yourself, grade yourself harder than what you usually do,” Wilcox added. “Just come out there and play full speed. That’s the main thing. And just let it go.”