Troy Aikman recently criticized Jerry Jones, saying the Dallas Cowboys problems are the owner’s fault. Is he right? Is Jones to blame?
In ten years, Garrett’s never taken the team past the divisional round of the playoffs. Under his leadership, the Cowboys have only won two playoff games. That’s not good.
But after a few days stewing about the loss, I thought back to what former Cowboy and Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman recently said about the situation.
Here’s what FOX’s lead NFL analyst said according to the Washington Post before going on to lay out his case.
"“Everything begins at the top.”"
A few weeks before the Cowboys finally released Maher, Garrett indicated the team would be evaluating the kicking position. On the same day, Jones expressed they wouldn’t. Aikman insisted there was a trickle-down effect from this sort of confusion in messaging.
Aikman continued that when Jones makes comments after a game about how certain players played, or their medical condition, it undermines the coach. This has a negative effect on the team. When I read these comments at the time, I was a little skeptical.
But then, the following week, Aikman doubled-down on the criticism (again according to the Washington Post), saying the problem was Jerry Jones himself.
"“ … just because he’s been real stubborn and steadfast in that he’s the one in charge. I think in a lot of ways, until that changes, this team’s going to have some problems.”"
His point was that Jones should step down as the general manager. He should either give Will McClay (the current vice president of player personnel for the Cowboys) the top job or hire someone else.
If someone had made that statement a decade ago, I would have agreed wholeheartedly. Back in the day, Jerry Jones made some trades and draft decisions that definitely didn’t help the team.
In just one example, in 2000, the Cowboys traded two first-round draft choices to the Seattle Seahawks for wide receiver Joey Galloway. Galloway only played in one game before tearing his ACL ended his season.
Though he played in a few subsequent seasons, he never did anything to justify his hefty price tag. That’s one bad call, but I could give you a dozen more. In the decade after the Cowboys’ amazing run in the 1990s, Jerry Jones made a series of choices that doomed the team for the era.
But in recent years, Jerry has allowed McClay and his son, Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones to take more of the lead in personnel decisions, and the results have been excellent. Their draft choices, trades, and signings have mostly been very smart.
In fact, the reason that most people are so disappointed in the Cowboys this season is that many analysts have viewed the team as one of the most talented in the NFL.
So, I don’t think that Jerry has hurt the team in regard to personnel choices lately. (Selecting defensive end Randy Gregory in the second round of the 2015 draft does look like an exception. He’s been suspended for over half his time in the league for violations of its marijuana policy.)
However, that doesn’t mean that Jones hasn’t made other decisions that hurt the team. Some commentators this season have pointed out that it wasn’t Jason Garret’s decision to hire Kellen Moore as offensive coordinator in the offseason. Jones made that call.
Garrett wanted to take over play-calling duties himself this year. Though, on its face that sounded like a terrible idea, it wasn’t as crazy as it seemed, because Garrett was an offensive coordinator before being named head coach.
Now, don’t get the wrong idea. Garrett has obviously been a pretty mediocre head coach for the Cowboys. His record attests to that. And I could give you a list of his coaching mistakes and flaws. (I haven’t because that ground has been pretty well covered without my help.)
My point is that with his job on the line, Garrett was not allowed to make all the coaching decisions. The hiring of an offensive coordinator/play-caller is a coaching decision. But Garrett didn’t make that choice. Jones did. To me, this means that Jones is at least partially to blame here.
While Moore has done a good job at times, and the Cowboys have excellent offensive statistics, the bottom line is they’ve lost eight games with him calling the plays. The Cowboys had chances to win most of those games, but they couldn’t do it. Moore has to take some of the blame for that. And since Jerry Jones hired Moore, he has to shoulder some of those losses as well.
So, while I’m not sure I agree with Aikman’s reasoning, I think he’s right that Jones is a problem. But it’s also fixable. Just like everyone else, I’m anxious to see who the Cowboys will hire as their next head coach.
My concern is that whoever they hire, they let him do the job and make the coaching decisions. I could totally envision a scenario where Jones hires a coach (Lincoln Riley, Urban Meyer or whoever), but makes them keep some of the current assistant coaches as a condition of employment. It could be Kellen Moore, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Kris Richard, or someone else.
My hope is that whoever the next coach of the Cowboys is, Jerry Jones allows them to pick their own coaching staff, 100 percent. Otherwise, I think we could be in for the same story all over again. Please Jerry, pick a coach and let them coach the team. Don’t be a back seat coach!