Friday November 21st, 2014

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant said he doesn't think the team worked hard enough in the last three seasons en route to 8-8 records, ESPN's Calvin Watkins reports.

The Cowboys could have made the playoffs with a win in each of their season finales, but lost each time. Bryant, who has 56 catches for 793 yards and eight touchdowns this season, was straightforward in his assessment of why the team fell short each season.

"I'm going to give you my honest opinion. The years that we did go 8-8, I think – me, because this is just how I am -- I don't think we worked hard enough," Bryant said after Cowboys' practice on Thursday. "I'm not saying we didn't work, like, I mean the offseason, during the OTAs -- not the coaches. That's on us. The first thing that I did right after the game, we lost to Philadelphia (2013), my brother will tell you -- I was working out the next day. Just because I felt like 'Damn, we didn't do enough.' Obviously we didn't do enough, they was the better team. It feels different, it's a lot different -- it's a lot different from last year. We're more together, we want it more, we've got the same vision, and that's kind of hard when you've got a team like that."

• Patriots bring back ex-Steelers running back Blount

Dallas has started this season 7-3 and Bryant gave the credit for the turnaround to head coach Jason Garrett, who has a 36-30 career record with the Cowboys.

"It is him, because he let us know how things should be, and we see that and we understand that," Bryant said. "The older guys in this locker room should be accountable, making sure that the younger guys are doing right -- not trying to haze them, but making sure that they're on top of their game and trying to bring out the best in them."

• WATCH: Raiders linebackers celebrate as Chiefs snap ball

While Bryant and the offense are ranked in the top 10 once again, the team's defense has made significant strides since last season. The Cowboys' defense has improved from finishing last in yards allowed last season to No. 15 this season and improved from No. 26 in scoring defense to No. 10.

Dallas is in second place in the NFC East behind the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys play at the New York Giants on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

- Paul Palladino

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.