VALLEY RANCH, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys head into 2013 season with a lot at stake, namely the hide of coach Jason Garrett if the team misses the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
But one thing is clear in what will be the 25th anniversary of Jerry Jones buying the team in 1989: The owner is just as spry as ever and has no intention of changing.
With expectations comes impatience, and the owner said at the end of last season he was tired of facing the Cowboys' inability to make a Super Bowl. The championship thirst was last quenched in 1995, including just two playoffs wins since.
But Jones also doesn't mind saying he's an eternal optimist. And his passion remains strong heading into Sunday's season opener against the Giants at AT&T Stadium
"You tell me. I see a thousand miles an hour. I don't think the guy ever quits thinking and ever quits moving," vice president Stephen Jones said of his father. "So, I think his energy level is good, if not better, than I've ever seen. He's more motivated, more pushing buttons than (what) I've ever seen."
Garrett is not on the heat seat with a 21-19 record in 2 1/2 years as coach, according to the owner. That mark includes an 8-8 record each of the past two seasons. But Garrett, whom Jerry Jones described as the team's greatest asset this offseason, knows his boss as well as anyone dating back to his playing days as a backup quarterback.
He said Jones's energy level is "as high as I've seen it."
"That's his greatness -- he brings it every day in everything he does," Garrett said. "I felt that as a player and I felt that as an assistant coach and I feel that as a head coach. He loves the National Football League. He loves the Dallas Cowboys. He wants to do everything in his power to make them great, and he has that same feeling for life. Whether it's his family or any other business endeavor he's in, he does it 100 miles per hour.
"He sets the pace and sets the tone for everything. When you are in an organization, as a player, a coach, an assistant coach, being around that kind of enthusiasm is the best thing. You can ask for anything more."
To his credit, Jones said "I know more about what I'm doing than hopefully I did 25 years ago."
What's also true, Jerry Jones claims, is he's as fired up for this season more than many in recent memory. He said he's so riled up about the 2013 Dallas Cowboys that he's unable to sleep.
That means he's fired up for the season opener against the Giants -- who are 4-0 since Jones opened Cowboys Stadium.
He is excited to see his defensive execute under Monte Kiffin after shifting from the 3-4 to the 4-3 in the offseason.
The Cowboys have concerns, starting with defensive tackle Jay Ratliff being sidelined for six weeks on the PUP list. He was expected to play the Warren Sapp role in the cover-2 defense as an interior pass rusher.
Ratliff's replacement, Jason Hatcher, has had a strong camp and appears to ready to fill in as a rusher and the Cowboys think the new scheme will get the most out of defensive ends DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer after moving over from linebacker. Spencer isn't fully healthy himself.
Jones is excited about quarterback Tony Romo and new found input in game plans and playcalling this season and the breakout star they hope to get in receiver Dez Bryant.
The greatest concerns going into the opener are on the offensive line where the Cowboys are taking the chance of moving right tackle Doug Free to right guard and starting former college basketball player Jermey Parnell at tackle for the first time.
Notes: CB Morris Claiborne practiced Monday for the first time in one month because of knee soreness. He took reps with first team and the scout team to work on his technique and conditioning with designs on being ready for Sunday's game against the Giants. ... Offensive lineman Doug Free talked for the first time Monday about the team's decision to use him as a backup plan at guard, a position he has never played before not even going back to high school. Free said he is willing to do whatever he can to help the team and doesn't know if he will start at guard or tackle in the season opener against the Giants Sunday. He took first team reps at both positions on Monday