Has Jerry Jones Finally Seen The Light?
By Brad Austin
Dallas Cowboys fans, we seem to have an impostor in our midst. Typically I’d say let’s expose this pretender and restore our leader. However, in this case it’s best we sit back and enjoy the positive improvements.
There has always been one constant when it comes to Owner/GM Jerry Jones. When he puts his eggs in an acquired player’s basket, said player will be given every opportunity to prove Jerry right and fluff his ego.
Mr Jones has always craved recognition as a solid personnel evaluator. He has never received that distinction from the public, and it has clearly eaten at his core.
One of his worst vices has always been neglecting the dire needs of his own team. He’s notoriously provided blind support to his failing pet projects in hopes of achieving glory for being right.
Often the Cowboys suffered dearly with no new attempt to find a superior alternative to his failed preference. There are two very recent examples that display the nature of GM Jerry Jones prior to this 2013 off-season.
C PHIL COSTA
Some may dispute the damage caused by the Costa experiment as he remains important to the depth of the team. Many do falsely hang on to one solid 2012 performance against Baltimore in Week 6 as proof he is a success. Dallas gained 227 rushing yards that day.
What most fail to understand is Baltimore was ripped for 214 rushing yards in Week 5 against Kansas City, one game before Dallas. The game following the Cowboys game, the Ravens were shelled again by Houston for 181 rushing yards.
Bottom line, the Baltimore run defense was badly ailing and got shelled on the ground 3 times in a 4 week span at that point of the season. Phil Costa was the beneficiary of the same soft defensive front everyone else was exposing too.
Jerry Jones began the pet project with Costa in 2011 by releasing veteran productive Cowboy center Andre Gurode. With all eggs in Costa’s basket, he graded out at the very bottom end of starting NFL centers in 2011.
Even after Costa proved to be ineffective, Jerry stuck to his guns and provided no new help to the crucial position for 2012. He was so blinded by his conviction to succeed with Costa, that Jones didn’t even assemble ample replacement in case Costa was injured.
Costa was already missing time due to back problems in the 2012 training camp. When a lineman has back concerns, the GM might want to pay close attention, that’s a lengthy injury that is easy to aggravate.
Needless to say, Costa went down in the beginning of the Week 1 contest in New York. There was no contingency plan in place due to the naive decision by Jones, and the Cowboys were forced to scramble to acquire Dolphins’ back-up center/guard Ryan Cook.
The Cowboy’s season then rested squarely on the shoulders of a guy who couldn’t even start for the floundering Dolphins. Cook played valiantly in a tough spot, yet he certainly wasn’t a solid center in the grand scheme of things.
Once again, Jerry hung in far too long with a pet project of his own undertaking, and the team paid dearly for his blind ambition and ego.
WR ANDRE HOLMES
In the 2012 off-season Jones was again digging into his lacking bag of tricks. WR Andre Holmes was boldly tabbed the equally talented replacement for departing free-agent Laurent Robinson.
Andre Holmes was then a second-year player who had never played a regular season NFL game. Prior to then he was relegated to the practice squad the past year.
While Holmes was a practice body, Robinson was busy leading the Cowboys with 11 TD catches. How impressive is 11 TD’s in a season? Let’s just say it ranked him 3rd in the entire NFL in 2011, only behind Calvin Johnson and Jordy Nelson.
The training camp quickly following Jones’ prediction of his rocketing ascent, Holmes failed to even make the team altogether. He now occupies an Oakland Raiders roster spot as they struggle to compete in the AFC.
Jerry’s undeserved full backing of Holmes prevented the Cowboys from securing any free agent or high draft help at the WR position for 2012. Dallas selected Danny Coale with a 5th round pick, yet that was hardly a strong play to replace the lost production in Robinson.
It turned out okay without Holmes or acquired help, as there were some surprise developments from other young players. Yet this lucky turn of events occurred with no help from Jones in the 2012 off-season, at a position that took a big loss in free agency.
The above two cases were merely a few in the long history of awful Jerry Jones pet projects that he stuck with way too long to the detriment of his own team. There have been MANY more over the years.
Just to name a few more of Jerry’s Boys from memory lane…Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Stephen McGee, David LaFleur, and the list goes on and on. All were Jerry’s special selections, and all damaged the team’s progress.
So who is this strange man wearing the Jerry Jones disguise during the 2013 off-season??? Surely this can’t be the same Jerry Jones of old, full of ego and blind support.
1) PHIL COSTA DEMOTION
Let’s explore some of the facts. This new Jerry spent his 2013 1st round pick on a center, even with Phil Costa still on the roster. Travis Frederick was named the starter above Costa from Day 1 and has never looked back. Jerry has backed the replacement the entire way.
2) NATE LIVINGS ISOLATED
In 2012, Jones acquired career back-up Mackenzy Bernadeau and middle of the road guard Nate Livings, promoting the two as his new saviors of the offensive line.
Even after both newcomers ranked in the bottom third of all starting NFL guards during their first season in Dallas, Jones continued to tow the line they would start again in 2013.
Both guys continued to be injury problems and missed OTA’s and early camp. Instead of Jerry waiting around for their health and lending 100% support to his pet acquisitions, this time he distanced and began full support of finding upgrades.
Once Ronald Leary returned from a minor injury and has shown real promise to start at guard this season, Nate Livings has all but been demoted with the full support of Jones.
That wouldn’t seem completely odd, as Leary is also sort of a pet project for Jones as well. He did give the undrafted free agent more guaranteed money in 2012 than some of the 2012 draft picks.
Regardless, Jones invested FAR more substantial money in Livings and stands to lose a nice chunk if he releases his prize guard acquisition from 2012. So yes, it does signal a change in Jerry’s behavior to withdraw his heavy support for Livings.
3) MACKENZY BERNADEAU ON NOTICE
The only one left in the starting line-up from Jones’ 3 pet project interior linemen from the last 2 years is Mackenzy Bernadeau. Not so fast, Dallas has already made a free agency signing attempt to replace him too.
Brandon Moore was tabbed an acceptable replacement and was offered a contract last week. At the last second Moore bailed and Bernadeau breathed a sigh of relief.
The latest word on the street is Dallas is simply waiting until a few weeks before the season starts, then free agent Brian Waters will join the team to start at right guard.
Shockingly, not one but three of Jerry’s latest projects, and a substantial amount of money, will likely grace the bench on Sundays.
The brash owner of America’s Team is amending his stubborn ways. After all these years, he’s finally placing the team’s best interests in front of his ego.
By allowing all 3 players to ride the bench, Jerry is admitting his mistakes. He’s allowing his declared saviors to play support roles. And there is nothing wrong with that. Jones will have indirectly created a new o-line strength…quality depth.
Jones finally moved his ego aside by allowing coaches and scouts form the best team possible. Dallas has a solid chance to field a dangerous team this season.
With Brian Waters adding to the mix, this line could be one powerful, talented bunch. The newness will result in mistakes, yet the overall results could provide monumental progress.
There is finally real promise coming from this Dallas Cowboys team. You have every right to feel guarded excitement. Huge, exciting changes are going down within this organization.
The key factor is the Owner/GM simply removing his roadblock ego from the path to success, finally allowing the team a real chance at success. They no longer have to overcome their own gaping inadequacies, along with defeating fierce opponents on the way to victory.