On draft day, sports networks and fans the world over got exactly what they wanted. The drama was at its climax as the Dallas Cowboys were set to pick as Johnny Manziel fell right into their lap at pick 16. Owner and general manager, Jerry Jones, seemed to fiddle with everything on his desk, looking for an answer to his problem– win now or win later?
There was much more on the table than the choice between the potential next franchise quarterback and an offensive lineman– Jones had to decide the where his team was going; Jones had to decide if he would buy into what head coach, Jason Garrett, was selling him.
The choice to draft a versatile offensive lineman such as Zack Martin showed that Jones was willing to give Garrett’s method at least another year. He opted to protect the Cowboys aging and ailing quarterback, Tony Romo, in the short term instead of rebuilding with a new quarterback at the helm. Jones bought Garrett some time with the team that he built.
It is not hard to fathom a Cowboys team led by another head coach for this upcoming season. As the Cowboys marched into Washington in Week 16 reports were flying around Valley Ranch that Garrett was coaching for his job. Rumors that Garrett must make the playoffs to return for the 2014 season were running amuck. If not for Romo’s Week 16 injury, his comeback victory against Washington, and his absence in Week 17’s loss to the Eagles, who knows who would be coaching the Cowboys this season?
Yesterday, Jones made it apparent that this was not a make or break year for Garrett and his staff. Jones stated in his press conference, “”In terms of the record of this team, this is not a make-or-break situation for Jason and members of this staff…We’ve got a job to do. We obviously want to zero in on what we have to do this afternoon and what we do the next day and the next day and the next day.”
Jones cited that this season’s Cowboys squad has a lot of fresh faces, yet he still has confidence that their young talent can produce. It could be that Jerry Jones and his patented win-now attitude may now be looking to the future, the long term, and the big picture.
At the same time, Jerry Jones has stuck himself in a paradox– while he claims to be looking at the big picture beyond just the 2014 season, he drafted to win now as opposed to later. Jones opted for Romo with very few years left, instead for a quarterback that he coveted to win games for seasons to come. Jones is both building a team to last, and also a team that is headlined by stars with a closing window of opportunity.
It’s possible that Jerry Jones is growing patient in his more formidable years as an owner and general manager. Once the man who fired one of the greatest coaches of all time, Tom Landry, the man who chased Jimmy Johnson out of town with his remarks, and the man who fired Wade Phillips mid-season after a 34-22 record with the ‘Boys, Jerry is allowing Garrett chances and leeway that was previously unheard of from the Cowboys front office. Jones may be more patient, but is he patient with the right person? Only time will tell.