Cowboys spent bye week fueling a second-half run

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, offensive tackle La'el Collins (71) and offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) exit the players tunnel before kickoff against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Moves put pressure on Dallas to win immediately, starting with Titans on MNF.

The Cowboys sent signals during their bye week that they think they’re close to being a contender this season.

Dallas was a buyer in the trade-deadline market, acquiring Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders for a 2019 first-round draft pick. The Cowboys also made a coaching change, firing offensive line coach Paul Alexander, moving Marc Colombo into that job and bringing on offensive line guru Hudson Houck as an advisor.

When Dallas coach Jason Garrett met with the media for the first time this week, he spelled out the thinking behind the activity.

“We’re always trying to get better,” Garrett said. “We believe very strongly in our team. We have a young football team. We’ve played some close games here in the early part of the season. We won one of them, we lost a couple of them. We’re going to learn from those experiences and keep going.”

The Cowboys need wins to back up their belief that they have a good team. The first chance comes on Monday night when Dallas hosts the Tennessee Titans.

So far this season, Dallas has lost on odd weeks on the road, then returned home on even weeks to rebound with a victory.

Although Cowboys offensive lineman Lael Collins, interviewed in an open-locker-room session on Wednesday, declined to say that the team is desperate for a win this week, all the signs say otherwise.

After hosting the Titans on Monday Night Football, Dallas goes on the road for two straight games versus the Eagles and Falcons. If Dallas losses at home on Monday and then can’t solve its road problems the two weeks after that, the team would have a 3-7 mark going into the Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Redskins.

From a cheerier perspective, Dallas has looked like a legitimate playoff contender at home. If the Cowboys keep that going and get back to .500 with a win this week, the pieces could fall in place during the second half of the season.

That’s how Garrett is looking at it, anyway.

“This team is going about it the right way,” Garrett said. “They’re working hard, they’re competing and I think they’re getting better week by week.”