Jerry Jones’ biggest flaw as owner of the Dallas Cowboys

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 12: Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys on the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 12, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 12: Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys on the field prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 12, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

After another disappointing season for the Dallas Cowboys, it’s clear that the owner is the problem, it just may not be obvious what is his biggest flaw.

As innovative as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been, there is a sad irony in the way he has ran this team.

Jerry looks at his team, his players and his coaching staff often through rose colored glasses.  Hard  evaluation rarely comes from Jones, unless you do too much to make him look bad (i.e. Jimmy Johnson or Terrell Owens).

Many like to poke fun at Jones and label him as horrible General Manager.  That’s lazy and false, primarily because he does not, alone, hire and fire players.  IF Jerry Jones was the de facto GM, Johnny Manziel would have been frequenting bars in the Metroplex instead of Cleveland, Ohio.

The Dallas Cowboys problem during Jones’ almost 29 years of ownership has rarely, if ever, been about the players.  It’s been about the men he has tasked with coaching and developing them.

Look at the arc of mediocrity this team has put together in almost three decades and it coincides with the coach.

Jimmy Johnson’s record of 47-39 looks, on the surface, the definition of mediocre.  When you factor in the extreme rebuild he was a part of, it looks better.  When you realize he won back-to-back Super Bowl’s, you can see what he did for this team.

Next up was Barry Switzer.  The narrative will go that he only had success because of the players Johnson brought to Dallas.  To some degree that’s true, but a 40-24 record with the last championship of the franchise should still mean something.

Going from the ultra-detailed Johnson to the extremely player friendly Switzer, Jones’ next choice was then up and coming talent Chan Gailey.

Jones will forever tell you his fired Gailey too soon.  Gailey went 18-14 in two years with back-to-back playoff flameouts.  He then went to a familiar source, giving Dave Campo the reigns for three seasons.

In what was clearly his worst idea, Dallas won just five games for three straight seasons.

So, with darkness once again settling over Dallas, what did Jerry do to fix things?  He went back to the well again to find another Johnson-esque football guru.

In came Bill Parcells to resurrect the franchise.  Much like Jimmy, Bill’s overall record of 34-30 was not the story.  Parcells once again stocked the shelves with talented players, rebuilding while winning.

After Parcells quit, Jones found comfort in repetition.  The hire of Wade Phillips became his Switzer part two.  Sure Dallas won a lot of games (33-15), but they won just one playoff game.  So, what did Jones do to solve the problem?

He sought to fix his biggest regret by hiring his Chan Gailey 2.0 with current head coach Jason Garrett.

Jones has often said he has a desire to have his version of Tom Landry.  In Garrett, he believes he has that.  The problem is, it could not be further from the truth.

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Landry worked as a defensive coordinator for six years with the New York Giants before getting a shot as a head coach.  During his tenure as coordinator, he spent his days opposing another legend in Vince Lombardi who the offensive coordinator.

Garrett served just one year as a quarterbacks coach for the Miami Dolphins before being handed the offensive coordinator job under Phillips in 2007.  Under Garrett, no quarterback for the 2006 Miami Dolphins’ threw more touchdowns than interceptions.  No quarterback had a passer rating over 78.0 either.

Landry, meanwhile, invented the 4-3 and flex defenses as well as the shotgun formation.  All three are still a major part of today’s game over sixty years later.

The biggest flaw in Jones’ approach here is that he says he does not want to repeat past mistakes but is doing exactly that.  There has been and still is nothing that indicates Garrett is capable of leading a team like Tom Landry.

There is also no history of anyone having minimal prior experience and becoming a legendary great head coach either.

Look at the best coaches in the NFL right now and throughout history and notice a trend.

Bill Belichick was a special teams coach and defensive coordinator for 15 years before his first head coaching job.  Mike Tomlin was a defensive backs coach and coordinator for 6 years before he became the head man in Pittsburgh.  Mike McCarthy was a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for 10 years before Green Bay chose him as their head coach.

Sean McVay, Sean Payton, Mike Zimmer and Ron Rivera all spent several years as an assistant before becoming the guy.

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If Jerry Jones is serious about winning another Lombardi Trophy, he needs to move on from Jason Garrett.  He needs to stop going through the same tired cycle of coaching profiles.  Maybe in doing so, the Dallas Cowboys can break the cycle of mediocrity and disappointment as well.