RELATED: Brandon Weeden’s performance played role in Kyle Orton cut
OXNARD, Calif. – The decision to waive Kyle Orton wasn’t exactly hard-hitting news as the Dallas Cowboys opened training camp with a state-of-the-union press conference.
But it was the first time both Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett had discussed the decision to part ways the backup quarterback had not participated in any of the offseason work.
While some of the reasons came down to money, which the Cowboys saved about $1 million on the cap by cutting Orton when they did, Jones said another factor came down to Brandon Weeden.
The former first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2012 who was available this offseason, got nearly all of the first-team reps with Tony Romo rehabbing his back injury and Orton sitting out.
Weeden’s play has seemingly given the Cowboys enough confidence to assume he will continue to improve and be the backup to Romo for this season.
“We liked what we saw from Weeden in his absence,” Jones said. “That was pretty good stuff. Does he have a lot to do to be where let’s say Kyle Orton might have been starting against San Francisco? Yes, he’s got a lot of work to do and we know that. On the other hand, he does a lot of good things as well.”
Jones said the fact Weeden took advantage of his opportunity is a good example for the rest of the team heading into camp.
“It’s kind of a mantra for what’s going to go on out here during training camp,” Jones said. “You need to be out there, you need to be on the field, you need to be doing your best every play or somebody else can step up there. That was all alive and well in this decision. But it’s important to understand we were paying Kyle a lot of money and that money can go toward paying a pretty good football player that can help us win in our judgment more than having that much invested in his position at backup quarterback.”
RELATED: Jerry Jones says record won’t be deciding factor for Jason Garrett
OXNARD, Calif. – The question has been asked before. The answer still hasn’t changed.
Despite three straight 8-8 seasons and despite not giving Jason Garrett a new contract, owner Jerry Jones said Garrett’s fourth season as head coach is not a “make or break” year in terms of record.
Jones’ comments occurred about 12 inches away from Garrett as the two sat up together on the stage for the opening press conference of training camp here in Oxnard.
It took about 10 minutes of the press conference before Jones was asked about the proverbial hot seat for Garrett, who has yet to get his team into the playoffs.
“I’ll be serious with you … no … in terms of the record of this team, this is not a make or break situation for Jason and members of this staff,” Jones said. “We’ve got a job to do. We obviously want to zero in on what we’re doing this afternoon and the next day and the next day.”
When pressed again why the final record won’t be a factor, Jones explained.
“Well it’s just not necessarily a factor. It’s just not. The things that make the record will be under consideration, but not the record. Not the record, the numbers on the record,” Jones said. “That’s been the case, did the record of 8-8, 8-8, was that a factor? No. Principally it were other things that I’m proud of and that I think creates quite an asset for us. In my mind, he is more of an asset after this last 8-8 season than he was before the first 8-8 season we had three years ago.”
The Dallas Cowboys have been in the same situation for three straight years – a chance to win the NFC East in the final game of the season only to lose to a division rival, putting them on the outside of the playoffs.
While Garrett has yet to have a winning record as a head coach – excluding his 5-3 mark as an interim coach in 2010 – he has the vote of confidence from his owner.
“There’s nobody that has a better feel for me than Jason, in terms of a relationship,” Jones said. “We both know where are expectations are, when it’s looking good or when it’s looking dire. I don’t expect it to be the latter.”
Garrett sounded unfazed when asked about Jones’ comments after the press conference.
“I really don’t think about it at all,” Garrett said. “We have so much to focus on as coaches to try to build this football team the way we want to build it. That’s where our focus is. That’s mean my focus since Day 1. It was my focus as a player – try to be the best player I can be each and every day. I certainly try to do that as a head coach of this team. I try to provide the leadership and guidance that everybody needs. That’s where my attention is, that’s where my focus is and that’s where it always has been.”
Since Jason Garrett took over Wade Phillips in the middle of the 2010 season, the Dallas Cowboys have a record of 29-27.
RELATED: Jerry Jones would consider return for Josh Brent
OXNARD, Calif. – It only took three words for owner/general manager Jerry Jones to make his stance clear on a possible return for Josh Brent.
“We’ll consider that,” Jones said.
Following the opening press conference, Jones expounded on the possibility of a return for Brent, who’s been released from jail after serving 180 days for a drunk driving accident that resulted in the death of his friend and teammate, Jerry Brown.
Brent retired from the NFL as a member of the Dallas Cowboys prior to the start of last season, and the team would need to await word from the league about any possible suspension if Brent does get reinstated.
It certainly sounds like Brent, who’s currently spending time in rehabilitation following his release from jail, could return to the Dallas Cowboys.
“I do believe in paying your debt…paying the price,” Jones said. “To the extent that he does that, and I don’t have the information you would need to have to make that consideration, as far as Josh Brent is concerned, we have stood with Josh Brent from the very beginning and will continue. Josh Brent deserves an opportunity. He’s made a terrible mistake, knows it, I know first hand has contrition. I know that, and so, yes, I’ll consider giving him an opportunity.”
Jones said he’s talked with Brent within the last month. While some could view a return for Brent as a poor message or decision, Jones takes a different viewpoint.
“I think we’ve got to ask the other side of the question, is, ‘Do you get a chance to start over? Do we believe in paying your dues and getting a chance to start over?’ That’s the other side of that,” Jones said. “Principally, in this country, we believe in giving an opportunity to pay your dues and pay your penalties and move forward.”
Any possible return is still in its beginning stages. Jones said he doesn’t know the details of where Brent’s at or on what basis the team would let Brent rejoin, but it is something he will consider moving forward.
“I’ve known Josh before he had the tragic accident,” Jones said. “I feel that certainly he has paid a high price, and I’ve always thought he had a lot of really good qualities. Like many of us, he certainly has his foibles. To the extent that he pays his price to society, to the extent that he can become eligible to become a player in the NFL, than I’m all for him coming in.”
Jones said the NFL is a great forum to build back a player’s reputation.
“Adam Jones is talking to all of our rookies right now at all our rookies seminars — Adam Jones,” he said. “Tank Johnson is talking to all our rookies. Tank Johnson and Adam Jones talk to the rookies about how to do it the way I didn’t do it. Or what not to do, because I did it.
“That can be pretty compelling, people listen to that, and can be contributing to helping people have better lives and us having a better league, a positive contribution.”
RELATED: 2014 Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Press Conference eventful
OXNARD, Calif. – Football will finally take center stage beginning Thursday afternoon, but until then, there isn’t much better entertainment than a camp-opening press conference from Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett.
Jones and Garrett addressed the media for upward of 40 minutes to open the Dallas Cowboys 2014 training camp. Among the topics discussed were Jason Garrett’s job security, the decision-making process of releasing Kyle Orton a week before training camp and the risk vs. reward of signing Rolando McClain. Between those big points, the pair touched on numerous other bits of news.
Here are some quick notes from the presser:
- One of the more noteworthy developments of the press conference came at the very end, when Jones was asked about the possibility of bringing back Josh Brent, who was released from prison last month – a possibility Jones said he’d consider. Jones said he knows for a fact, having spoken with Brent within the last month, that the former Cowboy is contrite and deserving of an opportunity.
- Much has been made of Jason Garrett’s decision not to hold the usual conditioning test prior to training camp, and the team’s subsequent response to hold one of their own. Garrett mentioned that a foundation for a strong team had been laid by a high attendance in the offseason program, and the decision to go through with the test was something Jones said he found encouraging.
“Jason decided not to have the qualifying running that we’ve normally done for all the years that I’ve been involved, and he decided not to do that,” Jones said. “They took it upon themselves and decided they wanted to do it with the leadership of the team and the participation of, for the most part, of the team. I like that.”
- In an effort to further spell his team, Garrett said the first two practices of training camp won’t have the offense and defense compete against each other directly. The full team will work together during morning walkthroughs and a short afternoon walkthrough on Thursday and Friday, but the competitive portions of practice will be separated until Saturday.
- The vast majority of the roster will be available for practice when the Dallas Cowboys report Thursday. Garrett specifically listed Anthony Spencer and Amobi Okoye as two who would be sitting for at least the early portion of camp, and he said the team would take a wait-and-see approach with Ronald Leary.
- Two of the biggest injury concerns from the spring, Tony Romo and Henry Melton, are expected to be fully-available from the outset. Garrett said the team would be sure to keep close watch on both Pro Bowlers, but that they are fully cleared after being limited in the spring.
“He has been working hard on his conditioning, on his throwing and we do anticipate him being ready to go for all aspects,” Garrett said of Romo. “Like with anyone else coming off an injury, we evaluate him on a day by day basis and see how he is doing.”
Garrett added that the Cowboys are “very optimistic” about what Melton will be able to do in his first practice.
- Jerry Jones on the State of the Dallas Cowboys:
“I look at we had just had our team meeting a couple hours ago, and Coach Garrett led our, if you will, our goals and led what we’re going to be trying to accomplish beginning right today. But when I looked at that room, there are 90 players in there, and I think I counted 47 that hadn’t been in the room, and I may have it missed by one or two, but hadn’t been in that room, hadn’t been in a team room to start a training camp. We’ve never had more new faces, yet have the optimism that I have for those new faces, many of them are experienced veterans to some degree. Certainly, we’ve got our share of rookies and rookie free agents, but still, I’m very optimistic that we have a team that can come together “I’m not going to use that word you just used, just because I’m superstitious. Just in terms of the record, this is not a make-or-break situation for Jason or members of this staff. …”
- Jones opened the press conference by offering his condolences following the death of former Dallas Cowboys running back Robert Newhouse. Jones recalled that Newhouse was the first former Dallas Cowboys player he invited to join the team’s staff after he purchased the team.
“He was outstanding, he was about football – you couldn’t look at that guy and not think about our game that we play, and he played it with every ounce of his heart,” Jones said.
- The Cowboys owner also touched on the decision by Pat Bowlen to step down as the owner of the Denver Broncos.
“He lived and breathed his job as a Denver Bronco … this is a sad day,” Jones said.
- Both Garrett and Jones touched on the decision to release Kyle Orton from the roster just prior to the beginning of training camp. Having rationalized the decision to cut him, Jones had some interesting comments about what the Cowboys could do with the roughly $3 million in salary cap space freed up by the release – whether that goes toward long-term deals for Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith or acquiring a free agent.
“It will go to that and other things. A dollar that you’re not paying to a player or under one contract does not have a single place to go or a single goal – we know how that works,” Jones said. “Certainly, to the extent that we can do some things with some key players, such as Dez Bryant, we can do some things with Tyron, we will do that. But it also keeps your powder dry to do something if you get an opportunity as you go into the season. I wouldn’t preclude that at all. We’re in the business of using those resources.”