As always, I really love Brandon George‘s articles about the Dallas Cowboys and Jerry Jones. He is one of the best writers around. Enjoy! Randy
Why Jerry Jones the GM is like an ‘addicted gambler’
BY BRANDON GEORGE
The Dallas Morning News
Maintaining a reputation as America’s Team isn’t an easy task for any sports franchise.
Expectations are always through the roof, even when it’s closed.
But in the land of opportunity, the Cowboys have managed to accomplish the feat. They’re at the top of the list in terms of highest-valued NFL teams, best-ratings draw and merchandise sales. Cowboys fans get to enjoy football in a $1.2 billion stadium that is by far the NFL’s best venue.
All this despite an owner who refuses to change his ways because of the Super Bowls the Cowboys won in the 1990s.
Whether it is stubbornness or ego that plagues Jerry Jones – perhaps both – he won’t back down from his belief that his being the Cowboys’ owner and general manager is the best way for the franchise to operate.
Fifteen seasons of average football – that produced only one postseason victory for a franchise that always has Super Bowl aspirations – doesn’t seem to rattle Jones in the least when it comes to backing down from his hands-on approach. Jones simply won’t allow someone else to be the Cowboys’ general manager.
Not now. Not ever.
“I am amused almost when I hear criticism that we need to get some additional football input. I probably have too much,” Jones said recently on KRLD-FM 105.3. “There’s an adage in coaching, and coaches will say, ‘Don’t let anybody get between you and the owner.’ One of the biggest angsts you can have in the NFL is the angst between a coach and a general manager, and they’re not always on the same page at all and that’s why you have a lot of general managers come and go – just as you do coaches. Our system doesn’t have that. I go directly and communicate directly with the coach and the coaches, but with the benefit of a very significant amount of input.”
Bob Ryan, who became editor-in-chief of NFL films, gave the Cowboys their “America’s Team” nickname in 1979. The nickname has had staying power despite the franchise’s slide since its last Super Bowl in 1996.
Even this season, Cowboys fans were everywhere for the team’s road games at San Francisco and Arizona. No matter the city, road stadiums were always littered with fans wearing the blue star.
The Cowboys produced 20 consecutive winning seasons from 1966 to 1985, but have only 13 since (three coming in the Super Bowl years in the 1990s).
You wonder how much longer the Cowboys can maintain their reputation as America’s Team producing average results year after year.
Unfortunately for long-suffering Cowboys fans, as long as Jones maintains his role as owner and general manager the average results likely will continue. Jones said recently that he spent more money than any owner on his team the last two seasons. That doesn’t matter when you’re making bad decisions.
It’s like an addicted gambler who chases bad bets with more bad bets in an effort to catch up. All that leads to is a bigger hole. Eventually, you have to back away and realize it’s time to seek help.
However, you don’t usually get there until you reach rock bottom.
“The way we’re structured, our fans need to understand that I have the ability to go get anybody and any bit of information that there is, sports or football, and I do go get it from a lot of sources,” Jones said. “The thing you got to realize is when you have an owner that is full time as the owner, then you create a situation where you have as much turnover at GM as you do at a coaching level. I think that just deters from the mix.”
Q: Assuming that we take a cornerback in the upcoming draft, who do you think we should take and why?
Eric Sandoval, Amarillo
GEORGE: The cornerback who could be on the board when the Cowboys draft 14th in the first round is Nebraska’s Alfonzo Dennard. You have to figure that LSU’s Morris Claiborne and Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick will be off the board earlier than when the Cowboys pick in the first round. Dennard is a physical cornerback who is tough to get off the line of scrimmage against and that would fit what the Cowboys need. However, Dennard is only 5-10, the same height as CB Terence Newman.
Q: I know the Cowboys desperately need help in the secondary and will address it in the draft or free agency, but do you still take the best player available when the Cowboys draft at the 14th position in the first round, regardless of player position?
Tony Baker, Hobbs, N.M.
GEORGE: In a word: Yes. The Cowboys have so many needs and holes to fill on this team right now that they have to take the best player available when drafting 14th overall. The Cowboys really need help at linebacker and in the offensive line. They also could serve themselves well by drafting a quarterback to develop, but with so many glaring needs right now they probably will look for immediate help and not a draft-and-develop type at this point.
Q: Why in the world are we still keeping “Goldie Locks,” that worthless, fat, so-called defensive coordinator of ours, Rob Ryan?
Mary Voiles, Alba, Texas
GEORGE: Wow, Mary, remind me to watch out for you the next time I’m north of Canton again. Rob Ryan improved the Cowboys’ defense this season, though that’s not saying much considering how bad it was in 2010. Ryan didn’t have an off-season with the players to put in his complex scheme and now he’ll have that this year. The Cowboys expect a much better defense in Year Two of Ryan than what they showed in his first season with the Cowboys.
Q: At No. 14 in the draft, the Cowboys should get a good pick, but what are their priorities in free agency?
GEORGE: The Cowboys’ free agency priorities are similar to their draft priorities. The Cowboys have a lot of needs. The secondary and offensive line rank high on the list. With Cowboys free-agent, veteran linebackers Keith Brooking and Bradie James potentially gone, I would put linebacker high on that priority list as well. The Cowboys certainly could use another good pass-rusher, either at outside linebacker or defensive end.
Mike Ford, New Fairfield, Conn.
GEORGE: Sparano was a good coach for the Cowboys when he was in Dallas, but right now the team has an offensive line coach in Hudson Houck. His contract, however, is up this year but he hasn’t been told at this point that he won’t be brought back. Also, Sparano will likely want to call the offensive plays wherever he lands and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett doesn’t plan on giving up that duty anytime soon. Sparano will likely end up as a team’s offensive coordinator next season, but if that doesn’t work out the Cowboys might try to bring him back.