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Although Garrett was partly to blame for the mess this season had become, he jumped right into the cleanup.

He started the workday earlier, added hitting to midweek practices, required players to jog between drills and cracked down on rules, including ones he added. He had huge digital clocks installed around the locker room to avoid any excuses about being late to a meeting. He was constantly upbeat.

The Cowboys responded, cutting down on turnovers and penalties, and began forcing other teams into mistakes. They won four games with 38-year-old backup quarterback Jon Kitna and another with third-stringer Stephen McGee making his first career start.

The NFL labor uncertainty and possibility of a lost season played into Jones‘ decision. Whenever players return — as scheduled this offseason, or whenever a new collective-bargaining agreement is done — they already will be familiar with Garrett. Starting over could slow the turnaround Jones expects.

Dallas has appeared in a record eight Super Bowls and won five. However, the club is in the midst of its longest drought — 15 years since reaching the big game, and counting. Dallas has won just two playoff games since its last championship, in 1996 and 2009.

Jones can’t afford any more bad seasons because he needs to sell seats, suites — and perhaps naming rights — for the team’s $1.2 billion stadium that opened last season.