Is Jerry Jones sabotaging the 2022 Dallas Cowboys?
By Tyrone Starr
On Sunday, January 16, the 2021 Dallas Cowboys season came to an abrupt end as the team, once again, failed to taste postseason success. Approximately 75,000 people, myself included, left AT&T Stadium feeling dejected and numb. Another season that came to an end with many more questions than answers.
One of the biggest questions is, of course, how can the Cowboys improve enough in 2022 to make sure this does not happen again? With 23 free agents and both coordinators interviewing for multiple head coaching gigs around the league, the makeup of this team could be vastly different next season.
Now, this is not extraordinary by any means. Most of the league churns about 30% of their roster each season. Teams that do not make the playoffs always look to the ones that do in order to possibly lead their teams the following year.
The level at which change will hit the 2022 Cowboys is yet to be determined, but one thing is already becoming extremely annoying and problematic. Owner Jerry Jones is in his feelings over the latest Cowboys’ collapse which is to be expected. How he is going about it, however, could be sabotaging this team next season.
Jerry Jones indecisiveness and complaining could hurt the 2022 Cowboys roster and coaching staff
While Executive Vice President Stephen Jones told reporters post-game that he was very confident head coach Mike McCarthy would be back in 2022, father Jerry was far less committal.
Do I disagree with Jerry? Absolutely not. Anyone with two ideas and a marginal IQ could see that this team played vastly different in their first seven games as opposed to their final eleven. After starting the season 6-1, Dallas went just 6-5 to end the season.
If it were up to me, I would replace McCarthy. The problem here is not so much about pondering that move. The problem is hemming and hawing publicly about whether or not to do so. Not only is it a bad look, but it also is terrible timing.
Nearly a week after that loss, all of the “hot” coordinators have already interviewed once or twice with several organizations. Pontificating as to whether or not you’re going to make a change just pushes the timeline in which to do something further down the road. Entering the race of a new coach later and later is likely to limit your options.
Beyond that, if you’re going to make a move, who do you think will be both available and better? If that answer is New Orleans head coach Sean Payton, just stop. Falling for this annual rouse is almost as pointless as falling for the hope that the 25th year of missing the Super Bowl will have a different result than the 26th year.
Of course, Jones did not stop his open mic spewing of frustration. After the head coach was publicly thrown under the bus, he then went after his star receiver. Here’s Jones again in the same interview, talking about receiver Amari Cooper.
"“I don’t have any comment on Cooper’s contract. I thought that the way we were playing early when we did make something happen, I thought Cooper had a big part of it. And I’m not being trite. But how he fits in, he should take half the field with him when he runs a route. Not half — half is an exaggeration, of course, but a whole bunch of that defense should have to honor Cooper. And he ought to be able to catch it in the middle of when they’re going with him. Others do. You throw to people that are covered all the time in the NFL.”"
In case you’re wondering, Cooper is under contract with this team until 2025. However, Dallas can get out his five-year, $100M contract this offseason with just $6M going to dead money. Now, Cooper did have his worst year since coming to Dallas, but why that occurred is not all on him.
For example, four players this season had more than 600 yards and six touchdowns. That never happened in any previous year that Cooper was on the team. You can also point to some of the play-calling as to why Cooper’s numbers were below the expected standard. Even the player himself called out this issue late in the year and asked for (demanded) a bigger role in the offense.
Jones choosing McCarthy and Cooper as the objects of his dissatisfaction are well within his right as the owner of this team. Doing so publicly, however, serves no purpose. Regarding the coach, this tactic already paints McCarthy as a lame-duck coach which rarely ever works out well. As for the player, it puts you in a precarious position if you choose to negotiate any sort of trade.
Coaches come and go. Players do as well. Since 1996, Dallas has had a few Hall of Famers on the field and one roaming the sidelines, yet no team has been able to get to the NFC Championship.
When each season ends and it is time to reflect upon why the team fell short, it is fair to point to the coaches and players like the owner did this week. Maybe instead of doing so in public, he should do some self-reflecting as well. After all, the only constant in all this failure has been the owner himself.