Last week commemorated the 25th anniversary of Jerry Jones purchasing the Dallas Cowboys and forever changing the course of the franchise. While the first seven or eight years brought the winning and dominance the Cowboys have exemplified since their inception, the majority of Jones’ regime has been defined by mediocrity and puzzling leadership. This week was no different. As the prominence of the accomplishment of owning a team for 25 years mixed with the Texas-sized popularity that the Star always brings, Jones was a consistent fixture in the media this week.
At times Jones appeared to be affable and almost endearing when discussing the failures of the recent era and the upcoming restructuring of current deals:
“We should have been knocking on the door and we haven’t and I have no excuses, it starts here,” Jones said. “But we have not. I know that to the extent that we have a healthy Romo, our best chance to get back to the Super Bowl is a healthy Romo. All of that boils down to management of a cap, management of certainly having players that deserve to get the money that you got,” Jones said. “When I look back on it, we probably paid some people that we probably would have been better off not paying.”
For Jerry to publicly take ownership of mistakes seems to be a step in the right direction. Anyone with even the slightest interest in the NFL or a minimal amount of the inner workings of how to build your team properly can look at the Cowboys model and find instant fault. Jones is loyal to a fault and rewards performance or the possibility of performance almost instantaneously. Time after time, a player has been given a lucrative extension at a time when there was no other bidder than Jones himself. Usually, Jerry appears defiant in the media when asked about how he has ran the team but this shows some sort of contrition…
And then, like Lucy moving the football on ol’ Chuck, Cowboys fans get a wake up call as the real Jerry Jones makes an appearance when asked to pontificate on why the Cowboys have not seen a Super Bowl in almost twenty years:
“You can’t do what I did in 1989 because of the contracts and cap,” Jones said Monday at the NFL scouting combine. “The system automatically creates about a third turnover, but it also creates contractually for clubs a situation where you cannot just strip it. You couldn’t even field a team with the hits against your cap by canceling the contracts. The easiest thing in the world is to change and go look for something new,” Jones said. “Something [new] being maybe a style, a player, that type of thing. That’s easy to make that decision. Now you have to know, you’re sitting there saying, ‘OK, where do I go from here and what type of player am I going to have out there, and how is the best way to use it if there is an asset somewhere else?’ You’ve got to roll the clock forward.”
So… the salary cap is the excuse you said earlier that you did not have. How do the other 31 teams do it? I am pretty sure everyone has to play by the same rules and stick to the same financial constraints. Somehow all but five other franchises (Bengals, Bills, Browns, Chiefs & Lions) have found a way to win multiple playoff games since 1996. If Jones really believes the salary cap is the problem and not him, Dallas will doomed forever because I hate to be the realist in the room, but plenty of teams have pulled off exactly what Jones thinks cannot be done.
Green Bay and Baltimore have both won two Super Bowls, more than ten years apart with a completely different quarterback and head coach.
The Giants won two Super Bowls, four years apart with almost 75% of their roster turned over. The team they beat in both of the games, the New England Patriots had 87% of the roster change from the 2007 game to the 2011 rematch.
This year’s Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks had exactly four players on the roster that were on the team four years ago.
It’s not even all about a championship. A simple playoff berth can be achieved very quickly… if you run your team properly.
Two seasons ago, the Indianapolis Colts lost one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game for the season, lost fourteen games and faced an incredibly difficult situation. Do you release the face of your franchise and absorb over $10 million in a salary cap hit to draft a new quarterback with the first pick? Conversely, do you possibly trade the pick for multiple assets and roll the dice by paying a 35 year-old quarterback $28 million per year who just missed the entire season?
The Colts elected to release Manning and since then have won 11 games in both seasons, made the playoffs both times and won the same amount of playoff games in two years that the Cowboys have since 1996.
Another team started to see the franchise go in the wrong direction during that same 2011 season. The previous three seasons saw the Philadelphia Eagles make the playoffs each time and collect 30 regular season wins. 2011 and 2012 brought a total of 12 wins to the Eagles which created a difficult situation of having to ponder the decision to fire long time head coach Andy Reid. The Eagles went ahead and let Reid go, hired a brand new coach and even went through a quarterback change during the 2013 season. They won ten games and made the playoffs.
The team that scooped up Reid off the unemployment line, the Kansas City Chiefs, had won a total of nine games since 2011 including just two in 2012. Last season, Reid, along with new quarterback Alex Smith helped lead the Chiefs to eleven wins and a playoff berth.
It’s not magic. It is possible to fix things with a quickness and turn your franchise around. Maybe if the owner/general manager would stop looking for lame excuses or his checkbook any time some one has a solid season and starts looking for real answers to solve the issue, the Cowboys can be one of these examples as well.