THE GREAT HORNYGATE SCANDAL: Jerry Jones addresses recent off-the-field issues | Photos are a misrepresentation | Women lawyer up | “Son of God” exposes “Sins of Jerry Jones” | Story is weirder than the photos
2014 COWBOYS CAMP COVERAGE: Jason Garrett’s padded practice presser; Pope’s porta potty | Coach Jerome Henderson mic’d up | Jerry Jones on Rolando McClain expectations
Mic’d Up: Secondary Coach Jerome Henderson | 1:09 | Follow along with Dallas Cowboys secondary coach Jerome Henderson as he goes through the teams morning walkthrough during training camp. (Watch | Listen)
Jason Garrett Press Conference: Pre-Padded practice; Pope’s porta potty | 14:44 | Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett on the upcoming first padded practice of the 2014 seasons Training Camp; Tight Ends coach Mike Pope’s porta potty (Watch | Listen)
THE SAFETY VALVE IS OPEN: Dallas Cowboys firmly support young J.J. Wilcox following the 2014 NFL Draft | Dallas Cowboys defense
IRVING, Texas – Perhaps rookie safety Ahmad Dixon will turn into something truly special, but the numbers speak for themselves.
The Dallas Cowboys drafted Dixon No. 248 overall, eight picks away from the end of the 2014 NFL Draft on Saturday. The fact that they took him means they see something promising in his play, but his position on the draft board doesn’t inspire much in the way of expectations.
That’s by design, to hear it from Dallas Cowboys executives. The safety spot is a position some consider to be a dire need for Dallas, but it’s hardly evident based on the draft strategy. With the No. 16 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys had a shot at any of this year’s premier prospects – Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Calvin Pryor and Jimmie Ward – not to mention a slew of other safeties drafted behind them.
Despite that perception, though, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said he was “pretty comfortable” with the outlook at safety going forward with Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath, and Matt Johnson.
“I think I was always pretty upfront about that. You can obviously upgrade it if you take them one – I’m not going to deny that. To some degree there was one in the second there we liked a lot, the Northern Illinois safety,” he said. “But after that, we kind of felt like we were getting a lot of what we had. We like J.J., we like Church and we like Heath. We’ll just see how these guys play out.”
That’s an attitude both Stephen Jones and Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones repeated several times throughout the weekend. Specifically, it seems the offseason optimism is for Wilcox to grab hold of the starting role he briefly held in 2013.
The Georgia Southern standout was taken No. 80 overall just last season and endured plenty of ups and downs — from losing his mother in training camp to being named the starter to a knee injury that forced him out of the lineup – during a rollercoaster rookie year.
“We thought we had really hit on a big one right up until he lost his mother – we were naming him the starter the day he left,” Stephen Jones said on Friday night. “Obviously, we couldn’t do that because he’d have to miss quite a bit of time.”
In the meantime before training camp, however, hopes remain high for Wilcox.
“We feel good about him – that’s saying a lot,” Jerry Jones said. “But, boy, he looks good out here and we have high expectations for him.”
MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys WR Devin Street | 5th round NFL Draft 2014
Devin Street | Pittsburgh | 6-3/198
Here is a quick scouting report on Pittsburgh wide receiver Devin Street.
Devin Street WR, Pittsburgh Combine Workout
Watch Pittsburgh WR Devin Street work out at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
(Watch | No MP3)
Secret Audio: Devin Street Selection Call
The Dallas Cowboys War Room calls Devin Street after trading up to select him in round 5 of the NFL Draft.
Devin Street: This Is The Team I Wanted To Go To
Devin Street joined 105.3 The Fan shortly after being selected by the Dallas Cowboys.
MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens | 4th round NFL Draft 2014
Anthony Hitchens | Position: Linebacker | College: Iowa | 6-0/240 | 4.74
He’s a compact looking player on tape. You can see that there is a lot of weight packed on his body. For his bulk, felt like there were some times where he was very physical at the point of attack and then others where he could have done a little bit better job with his shed. He’ll extend his hands. He does a nice job of finding the ball. Big fan of the way that he reacts. He’ll take on in the hole with his shoulder, then work to the ball.
When he lowers his pads, you see a much better player. There were some snaps where he unloaded on the ball carrier. There is some pop with him. He does a nice job of handling the puller on the trap. He needs to get off the block a tick quick at times, but something he will get better at. Will close down in the hole. He’s able to flow to the ball. There were times where he over ran the ball and was very aggressive.
When he can see it, he can make the play. He’s not a fluid-moving athlete in space when it comes to coverage. He’s more of open, drop and float. Didn’t see him drive back to put himself in position. Think he would be a much better player if he didn’t weigh 240 pounds. That might help his quickness, but he’s extremely tough.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Former NFL Scout
Related videos …
Secret Audio: Anthony Hitchens Selection Call
Anthony Hitchens: Fortunate For This Opportunity
Anthony Hitchens Conference Call
POST-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE: DeMarcus Lawrence will help Dallas Cowboys bolster defensive trenches | Secret Call from War Room | 2nd round NFL Draft 2014
IRVING — A Dallas Cowboys team that patiently sat and let talent come to them to open the 2014 NFL Draft took a much different approach on the second night.
While the selection of guard Zack Martin in the first round was hailed as a sound approach, it increased the urgency to come out of Friday night’s proceedings with a defensive lineman who could make an immediate impact.
The Dallas Cowboys wasted no time addressing what owner Jerry Jones called an acute need. The team jumped from the middle of the second round to take Boise State defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence at No. 34.
“This was a need pick,” Jones said. “The need to have a player that either could put some pressure on the outside or a unique complement, give us two players that have to be blocked.
“He was the only one left on the board we saw that could draw two blocks. The question, in my mind, was just how much you pay for it.”
The team traded its second- and third-round picks (Nos. 47 and 78) to Washington to jump up 13 spots to select Lawrence. Washington responded by taking Stanford linebacker Trent Murphy and Nebraska guard Spencer Long with the two picks.
The Cowboys could have held those picks and had their choice of defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan or left defensive ends Kony Ealy or Scott Crichton in the third round. Defensive tackle Will Sutton and defensive end Kareem Martin were still available in the third round after Long was taken by Washington.
All of those players visited Valley Ranch and would have addressed the team’s defensive line deficiencies.
But none of those players line up at right defensive end. The Dallas Cowboys had Lawrence rated as the third-best pass rushing end in this draft behind Jadeveon Clowney and Anthony Barr. They gave him a first-round grade as a pass rusher and a high second-round grade overall.
That’s why they were willing to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, a price chief operating officer Stephen Jones concedes is higher than the draft value chart states.
“We really like him,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s a right end candidate for us. There are only a handful of right end guys in this draft. We felt like we needed to come up with an impact player in the front seven in this draft, and those impact players are high. They are the first- and second-round players.
“He’s got very good pass rush ability. He has a quick get-off. He can bend. He shows that he can get after the quarterback and make plays when you combine his sacks and tackles for loss. He’s just a very productive player over a two-year career over there in Boise.”
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is an advocate. The Dallas Cowboys need him to provide the edge rush that was lacking last season.
“What we’re looking for is somebody that has first and foremost natural pass rushing instinct,” Jerry Jones said. “Not necessarily speed. Speed alone doesn’t get it. It’s got to be somebody that has a knack of bending, maybe a way a couple of techniques.
“Rod is high on this guy. Real high on this guy.”
Jones notes the irony of replacing one DeMarcus (Ware) with another. Lawrence isn’t as fast as Ware. But he’s stronger.
“It’s unfair to compare players,” Garrett said. “That’s not what we’re in the business of doing. We want to choose players who are our kinds of guys.
“He was the guy on the board who best did that for us. This was a way to improve in the front seven.”
No one expects Lawrence to come in and duplicate the kind of production Ware gave the Cowboys before his release this off-season. But Lawrence knows the comparisons are inevitable.
“I know it’s some big shoes to fill, but I’m going to work my butt off,” Lawrence said. “I’m going to do all I can to become the best and fill their shoes.
“I’m my own Demarcus. I don’t like this trying to be nobody else. I’m going to be me.
“I’m going to do it well.”
Courtesy: David Moore | DMN staff
IN THE KNOW
DeMarcus Lawrence | Position: Defensive end | College: Boise State
Pick: No. 34 overall (second pick in the second round) | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 251
Notable: Lawrence, one of the Dallas Cowboys predraft visitors, is an exceptional athlete who projects to be a right defensive end, replacing seven-time Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware. In two seasons at Boise State, Lawrence recorded 20 sacks and 34 tackles for loss. Following high school, he played one season at Butler Community College, where he finished with 12 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. The Cowboys had Lawrence ranked as the third pass rusher on the their board, Jerry Jones said.
Quote: Lawrence on filling DeMarcus Ware’s shoes: “I know it’s some big shoes to fill, but I’m going to work my butt off and give it my all. I’m going to do all I can to become the best and fill those shoes.”
Courtesy: Jon Machota | DMN staff
Related Videos …
2nd/3rd Round Post-Draft Press Conference | 16:45 | Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Jason Garrett discuss their move to trade up and selection of DeMarcus Lawrence, defensive end from Boise State. (Watch | Listen)
POST-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE: Zack Martin will help Dallas Cowboys bolster offensive trenches | Secret Call from War Room | 1st round NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys could’ve grabbed the most polarizing, high-profile quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft. Instead, they protected the franchise quarterback that Johnny Manziel would have sat behind to start his career.
Tony Romo can breathe a little easier coming off back surgery knowing the Cowboys stayed put with the No. 16 pick and continued to bolster the offensive line, selecting Notre Dame’s Zack Martin.
“It means everything,” Martin said. “I couldn’t be happier to come down to Dallas and be a part of the great organization, this great storied organization. I’m very excited to come down there and start competing.”
Martin, a 52-game starter in college, gives Dallas three first-round picks on the offensive line and adds another youthful piece to a completely revamped part of the team. A part of the team considered a weakness a few years ago is now rebuilt with Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Martin.
Head coach Jason Garrett said the best teams in the league can control the line of scrimmage by building their infrastructure. He believes the Cowboys have done that with their recent first-round picks.
“We had a great start with that by drafting Tyron Smith, added to that last year by drafting Travis Frederick,” Garrett said. “We feel like Zack Martin’s in the same mold of those kinds of guys. We just think he’s a darn good football player. We evaluated him against some of the other guys all across our draft board. He consistently came up as one of the best players in this draft.”
That doesn’t mean the Cowboys refused to listen to offers.
Each team gets 10 minutes to make their selection in the first round, and Jones said the Cowboys spent around eight or nine minutes evaluating offers on the phone.
At first, Jones described them more as “semi-offers.” He came back to say there were technically some firm offers, but none the Cowboys were willing to bite on. Eventually, Jones and the Cowboys decided to add to their strong presence on the line with Martin.
He’s the third first-round pick the Cowboys have used on an offensive lineman in the past four years, and his ability to play both guard and tackle gives Dallas options now and in the future.He’ll begin his career as a guard, according to Garrett.
For Martin to start on the interior, he’ll have to beat out one of last year’s starters in Mackenzy Bernadeau or Ronald Leary. Garrett didn’t want to declare whether Martin will begin as a right or left guard, but believes he has the instincts and intellect to play across the line.
Martin, a tackle at Notre Dame, demonstrated his ability to bump inside with ease at the Senior Bowl.
“A lot of people argue he can play all five spots on the offensive line,” Garrett said. “So, initially we’ll give him a chance to work inside as an offensive guard and see how he holds up there.”
After last year’s struggles on defense, that side of the ball’s been hailed as the priority heading into the draft. But many of the Cowboys’ prime targets fell off the board prior to the selection, including Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, UCLA pass rusher Anthony Barr and Ohio State outside linebacker Ryan Shazier.
Jones said those three defenders, along with Martin, were their top targeted players at No. 16.
All the safeties in the draft were still on the board when the Cowboys picked, as well as the most dazzling quarterback prospect on the board. Speculation started to build as Manziel, a player some believed would be too intriguing for the Dallas Cowboys to pass on, began to fall down the board.
But Jones and the Cowboys didn’t want a quarterback.
Jones said Romo, by contract and the Cowboys commitment, will be the quarterback in Dallas for years to come.
“There’s no way any quarterback comes in here and beats out Tony Romo,” Jones said. “We were strong in the quarterback position, in our minds. The fact that Martin was there mitigated any consideration of a lot of things.”
That doesn’t mean Manziel’s presence at No. 16 didn’t come as a bit of a surprise.
“I was surprised, yes,” Jones said. “But what I was even more surprised is the fact that he was there didn’t bring on a bonanza of offers that would have given us, maybe, more options. I was also surprised, frankly, that we had the option to take Martin.”
As the draft shifts to Day 2 and the second and third rounds, the biggest needs remain on defense. Jones wouldn’t eliminate the possibility of another offensive pick, but after finishing last in the league on defense, he admitted the team needs a defensive player more than an offensive player.
Garrett’s also aware of the needs, but he’s glad the Cowboys were able to snag Martin.
“You want to address your needs, but you want to address your needs with the best players available,” Garrett said. “We felt like we did that today.”
KEEPIN’ UP WITH THE JONES’: Dallas Cowboys pre-draft press conference with Jason Garrett | NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – If all goes according to plan, the Dallas Cowboys will be welcoming more than just new rookies to their practices this summer.
The Dallas Cowboys pre-draft press conference was called with the intention of discussing the approaching NFL draft, but it served as a perfect opportunity for Cowboys brass to address the rehabs and availability of several prominent veterans returning from injury.
FIRST-ROUND FLURRY FACTOR: History shows that Jerry Jones may reshape the 2014 NFL Draft | Dallas Cowboys NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – Mock drafts might want to skip Dallas at 16, if history’s any indication.
Six of the past seven years, the Dallas Cowboys traded the first-round pick they were slotted for based on their record the previous season.
Most recently, the Cowboys traded from No. 18 to No. 31 in the first round in 2013 and picked up a third-round pick from San Francisco to select center Travis Frederick and wide receiver Terrance Williams, respectively, while the 49ers used their pick at No. 18 on safety Eric Reid.
It marked one of many first-round trades around the NFL in 2013, and it was a decision that appears to have paid off for both teams, though only time will tell.
The choice to trade down occurred one year after trading with the Rams to move up from No. 14 to No. 6 and grab cornerback Morris Claiborne. The Cowboys forfeited their second-round pick in the process – a pick the Bears then traded up for to grab wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. The Rams took defensive tackle Michael Brockers with the No. 14 pick.
The 2011 NFL Draft marked the only time since 2007 the Cowboys stayed put and used the pick they were scheduled to have based on their record. They took Tyron Smith with the No. 9 pick overall and found their future star left tackle and would follow that pick up with Bruce Carter and DeMarco Murray.
Each of the four drafts prior to the Smith pick, the Dallas Cowboys made moves either up, back or out entirely.
Dallas lacked a first-round selection in 2009 after trading its No. 20 overall pick as well as a third-round pick and a sixth-round pick for wide receiver Roy Williams and a seventh-round pick. The Lions used that first-round pick on tight end Brandon Pettigrew. The Cowboys also traded their only second-round pick that year to Buffalo for third and fourth round choices.
That 2009 draft will go down as one of the Cowboys’ least successful in recent memory. None of the Cowboys’ 12 picks that season are still with the team, and most of them are no longer in the league. (Editors note: The 2009 NFL Draft was not particularly good for any NFL team.)
The Cowboys ensured they wouldn’t wait around on talent a year later in 2010, trading their first-round pick at No. 27 and a third-round pick to move up for the Patriots’ first-round pick at No. 24 and a fourth-round pick. Dallas selected Dez Bryant at No. 24, while New England selected cornerback Devin McCourty at No. 27. The Cowboys also moved up a round later and traded their second and fourth round choices to the NFC East-rival Eagles to grab Sean Lee.
Both trade-ups in the 2009 scenario worked out for Dallas. The first-round trades in 2007 and 2008 were a bit more confusing to follow.
In 2007, the Dallas Cowboys traded their No. 22 overall pick to the Browns (who selected Brady Quinn), to grab the No. 36 overall pick and a 2008-first rounder. The Cowboys then traded that No. 36 pick to the Eagles, who landed Kevin Kolb with the selection, along with a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick to move back in the first round and select Anthony Spencer. There were a lot of moving parts, but in the end the Cowboys netted a Pro Bowl defensive end.
Their 2007 trade with Cleveland allowed the Cowboys to select Felix Jones in the first round at No. 22 overall in 2008. The Cowboys also moved up that year from No. 28 overall to No. 25 overall in a trade with Seattle that brought cornerback Mike Jenkins to Dallas. The Cowboys also dealt fifth and seventh round picks in the process.
The only year the Cowboys stayed put resulted in success in 2011. The Cowboys experienced varied successes and failures by moving up and down the last seven years, going to show there’s not always a black and white answer for the best decision from draft to draft.
ORLANDO – Since the Cowboys waived defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, the Cowboys have been rather mum on any discussions regarding the move.
But today, team owner Jerry Jones has confirmed the club has filed a complaint to the NFL regarding Ratliff and hopes to eventually recoup money paid to the defensive tackle. According to sources, the Cowboys are seeking repayment for his 2013 salary and portions of the $18 million guaranteed that Ratliff received as part of a five-year, $40 million contract he signed in 2011. The Cowboys are also trying to get money back that Ratliff owes on a suite at AT&T Stadium.
Since Ratliff was released by the Cowboys, it’s unlikely the team can issue a grievance based on the rules of the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, but instead have filed a complaint.
“It just stems from him not playing for us under the pretense of injury, and then days later playing for someone else,” Jones said in between busy at the league owners meetings in Orlando. “We just have a complaint and we’ll see where we take it from there.”
Jones chose not to get into more specifics of the situation and said he would prefer to get some resolve on the issue “hopefully soon,” although he pointed out these cases can take several months, if not longer.
Ratliff, who cut on Oct. 17, but later signed with the Bears and played the last five games of the 2013 season, including the Dec. 9 meeting with the Cowboys.
Injuries prevented Ratliff from meeting the lofty expectations of his last contract, which was his third with the Cowboys, who drafted him in the seventh round in 2005. Ratliff signed a five-year extension in 2007 before his last extension four years ago.
In 2012, Ratliff missed a total of 10 games with two different injuries – a high-ankle sprain that forced him out of the first four games and then the final six with an injury that was initially listed as a strained groin. During his six-game absence, Ratliff and Jerry Jones had a heated altercation in the locker room after a game at AT&T Stadium. Witnesses close to the argument say it stemmed from Jones trying to give Ratliff a pep talk and expressed the team’s need for him to be on the field.
Ratliff later underwent sports hernia surgery in January and was expected to be completely healthy by the start of training camp.
In fact, Ratliff participated in the conditioning run in Oxnard, Calif. in late July, but reportedly suffered a hamstring injury.
By the time the Cowboys broke camp in mid-August, Ratliff was apparently having more issues with the groin again and that was the reason the team kept him on PUP (Physically Unable to Perform), where he couldn’t play for the first six games of the season. After that time period expired, the Cowboys chose to release him. Soon afterwards, Ratliff’s agent, Mark Slough, told reporters in a conference call his client had a “serious injury.” However, Ratliff signed with the Bears two weeks later, and has since re-signed a two-year extension to stay in Chicago.
VALLEY RANCH TRIAL SEPARATION: Despite his release, it’s still possible that the Dallas Cowboys could re-sign DeMarcus Ware
DeMarcus Ware is convinced he can make more money in free agency than the Dallas Cowboys are willing to pay, but is open to returning to the club if the market doesn’t support his stance.
Call it a trial separation.
Will that scenario unfold? It appears unlikely. There are quality teams with enough room under the salary cap to believe at least one of them will come up with the money that Ware seeks. Philadelphia is one potential suitor.
But today’s parting was described as amicable and no doors have been shut.
Ware knows to get the sort of contract he expects the offer will likely come in the first few days of free agency. If that offer doesn’t come he has told the Dallas Cowboys he would be willing to return. The source said Ware also indicated that before he signs with another team he will inform the Cowboys of the offer.
The club has told the seven-time Pro Bowler they want him on the roster in 2014 but at a base salary significantly less than the $12.25 million he was scheduled to receive.
Neither side has ruled out that they will be able to find an acceptable middle ground. Jones acknowledged as much in the release the club issued this afternoon announcing Ware’s release.
“DeMarcus and I agreed on an understanding that would allow him to explore the options he will have for the 2014 season and beyond,’’ Jones said. “We were also in very strong agreement that playing for the Dallas Cowboys would be one of the options we would both be exploring.’’
It will not be a prolonged exploration. Both sides recognize the need to move swiftly. If Ware doesn’t return, the Dallas Cowboys must use the $7.4 million freed up by Ware’s release and the $1.1 million it already had to find his replacements at defensive end.
The relationship may continue. But for now, the two have parted ways.
DALLAS COWBOYS FOOTBALL CLUB: Looking back at Jerry Jones’ 25 year ownership of America’s Team | Special Feature
IRVING, Texas – Man, 25 wild and crazy years, zigging and zagging, laughing and crying, running and running faster, trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Never, ever – ever – a dull moment, from the one win of 1989 that kept the Dallas Cowboys from an unprecedentedly poor 16-game NFL season to the eight wins – again – of 2013, one short of acceptable for the third straight year.
Who knew 25 years ago this past Tuesday, Feb. 25, 1989, sitting in the Dallas Cowboys team meeting room out here at what we then were referring to as Cowboys Ranch late that Saturday night, that so many lives would irrevocably change when the then-Arkansas stranger Jerral Wayne Jones was being introduced as just the third owner of the world-renowned Dallas Cowboys.
His life, along with those of his wife Gene’s and their three kids: Stephen, Charlotte and Jerry Jr.
The lives of so many who had worked for the Cowboys – made the Dallas Cowboys – from Day One or for the majority of those first 29 years of the NFL’s first expansion franchise’s existence.
The lives of those who would follow the Joneses to Dallas.
And our lives, too, those of us in the media crammed into a room big enough to house a team of football players but bursting at the seams with nearly everyone already on deadline when the long-awaited announcement began sometime after 8 p.m.
Me, I have mental snapshots of that evening, seeing on one hand the pure joy and excitement laced with some anxiety of the Jones Family and all of Jerry’s partners when he was introduced as the next owner of the Dallas Cowboys. But on the other hand, there was basically the team’s godfather, Tex Schramm, standing off to the side, with the glum look of a man attending his own funeral, realizing then the fact he no longer had a seat on center stage was symbolic of what was to come.
Hey, if Tom Landry was no longer needed, and he wasn’t since Jimmy Johnson was coming along with Jones in a package deal and had already been told by Jones what previous owner Bum Bright should have since he more or less resented Landry, surely the appropriately named Tex was not long for his world of 29 years either.
There was Jones, with almost preacher-like enthusiasm, rapidly talking of immediately winning with the 3-13 team he was inheriting, emphasizing his positivity with a fist pounding the air.
There were the arched eyebrows of the skeptical media, wondering what in the world … realizing the 29 years of Cowboys stability was being rattled as if the ground beneath an Apollo capsule launching into space.
A new day was dawning at dusk.
The last snapshot: After the final 30 was put on however many stories we could pound out by midnight, several writers gathered in Tex’s office, soon to be Jerry’s and still is. Sitting-on-the-floor room only. Again, a day of celebration on one hand, and rightfully so when you pledge $140 million you didn’t really have for an NFL franchise and accompanying stadium that were losing money hand over fist, and on this other hand a somber gathering, reminiscing about the good old days that were mostly great but now suddenly just good and old, growing more feint by the minute in the rearview mirror.
It was as if with these stories Tex was giving away his final possessions over drinks – stiff ones I might add – with the very people he had heartily laughed with yet angrily sparred with oh the many years.
“This is a very sad night for me,” Tex said needlessly.
And I distinctly remember this too: My Dallas Times Herald teammate, Frank Luksa, who had covered the Cowboys and Tom and Tex from nearly their 1960 inception, a man who thought he had seen it all, sitting on the floor next to me. He began to rise, held up his near-empty drink in a toast, saying unbeknownst to the rest of us, “Well, time to go home to celebrate what remains of my birthday.”
Will never forget his birthdate, singed into my mind.
And this, too, I’ll never forget, ever. A few days later, March 1, my life, as I perceived at the time, was turned upside down. A guy who was the sports department’s general assignment writer, handling an assortment of jobs, from helping out on the Cowboys to the Rangers to the Mavericks, college football, basketball and baseball, writing lengthy features and having just come off the previous year of covering the Olympics in Calgary and then Seoul, was told the Dallas Cowboys and Jerry Jones were your beat, buddy.
You have been chosen to inherit the tradition set by such esteemed writers as Sherrod, Perkins, Luksa and Dent. No way, I said, not me. I’m not cut out for this. They told me I was perfectly fit, having helped out since the middle of the 1984 season and having covered nearly every game over what turned out to be the final four and a half seasons of Landry’s coaching career.
So there I went kicking and screaming, into what seemingly was a daily towering inferno. Every day – every day – there was something, starting with Jimmy Johnson’s introductory press conference on Monday, the Port Arthur native apologizing with hat in hand if he somehow had danced on Landry’s coaching grave, saying to those who had perceived so, “I’m sorry,” and me finishing my story that night with one line:
And so the Cowboys new era begins apologetically.
Then there came all the coaching changes. Jimmy’s new assistants being hired. Tom’s old assistants being fired.
Then there was Jerry, armed with the first pick in the NFL Draft saying, “Troy Aikman should play for half the price” just to get to be a part of the Dallas Cowboys organization. Oh my.
Next day having to do a long profile on Jimmy.
Next day Cowboys lower ticket prices for end-zone seats.
Then the start of Plan B free agency.
Then the owners meetings, along with the start of implementing instant replay and the league’s initial crackdown on steroids.
Then there was no vote on approving the Dallas Cowboys sale to Jones, leaving the deal hanging.
Then 29-year NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle’s retirement, he having just compared Landry’s dismissal with “the death of Lombardi.”
Then Jimmy’s first minicamp, along with the real possibility of Randy White and Danny White not being back with the team, which eventually came to fruition a few months later. Then the contract struggle with quarterback Steve Pelluer.
Let’s see, then Too Tall staying, Doug Cosbie leaving, Jimmy playing coy on Aikman being their No. 1 pick, Mike Sherrard leaving, Nate showing up at 358 pounds for offseason workouts, Barry Sanders challenging the NFL’s draft rules, petitioning as an unheard of underclassman for the draft. Landry throwing out the first pitch at a Rangers game. A Landry parade downtown Dallas. The schedule released, at New Orleans becoming the new era’s opener.
Tex Schramm resigning to head up the NFL’s Worldwide American Football League. Cowboys vice president Joe Bailey resigning to join him. Then eventually business manager Billy Hicks, too, to head across the pond. Then the NFL at a meeting in New York finally approving the sale to Jones. Then negotiations began with Aikman’s agent Leigh Steinberg. Then Aikman signing a six-year, $11 million deal, the richest contract for an NFL rookie to date as the Cowboys No. 1 pick. Then the draft.
Oh, we’re just getting started, and these moves were expected, Jerry wanting to get his own people in place, people he could trust not relying solely on those with allegiances to Tex and Tom. Sort of like if you’ve ever been to an Italian wedding or seen an old-day Italian restaurant run. Only the immediate family handles the money, you know, and immediate means wife, husband, kids, mother, father or grandparents. Seriously.
Then longtime Cowboys employees being let go: Day-Oner Gil Brandt, treasurer of 18 years Don Wilson, public relations man of 18 years Doug Todd, 22-year ticket manager Ann Lloyd. All hard to watch.
Gosh, and it wasn’t even May yet.
And remember, back in those days there were three daily newspapers in the Metroplex: ours, The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The competition was fierce. And remember, too, no internet. Ha, internet. No social media. No cell phones. Dimes and quarters were important commodities for payphones. You had one shot to get every story every night. And if you were a competitor you wanted the impossibility of every story every night, so that meant working to 11 nearly every night. Anxiety filled your sleep.
Then, well, mornings were hell. You were scared to death to grab those other papers for fear of getting beat in black and white. Remember, too, no updating if you didn’t have it all until the next day. Trying to keep up with Jerry and Jimmy was exhausting. They weren’t letting any grass grow under their feet. Blowin’ and goin’ was the slogan. Theirs was an immediate program, not some three-year plan.
By the first of June, felt as if my head was being centrifuged. We had a meeting of sorts, me and the sports editor, who told me I was doing a fine job. Maybe, I said, but I want out. I want my old job back. This is going to kill me. He said no way. I said I can’t. He said we’re eliminating your old position anyway.
I said, well, of course I’ll cover the Dallas Cowboys. Who wouldn’t want to, right? But again, not before agreeing kicking and screaming, having wanted desperately to run for cover.
So here it is 25 years later, and still covering the Cowboys in some form or fashion every single day since, and well, let’s see. By my count, the last game I missed was the season finale in 1988, 23-7 loss to Philadelphia. And swear, I’ve never done this before, so hang with me, that’s 25 seasons times 16 regular-season games a season, equaling, no way, an even 400 straight, along with the majority, but not every preseason game during that span of time.
Seen 1-15 and 13-3. Seen three Super Bowl victories and three consecutive seasons of 5-11. Seen a plane ride home from Philadelphia in 1991 after the Cowboys clinched their first playoff berth in six seasons – first winning season, too, in those six – that barely needed jet fuel to get off the ground, and now three consecutive seasons of 8-8.
Seen a losing franchise, both financially and athletically, become the richest in the United States and first to win three Super Bowls in a four-year span. Seen Hall of Fame coronations and the Jerry-Jimmy spat. Seen Switzer make me laugh until I thought I’d cry and Bill leave me in stitches even when he wasn’t trying to be funny. Seen Jimmy cry How ‘bout dem Cowboys! and smack those lips hard as he could losing those opening two games in 1993.
Seen triplets born to Bill Bates and Triplets land in the Ring of Honor. Seen Dave Campo come and go, and then come back again. Seen a free-agent quarterback rise into becoming the head coach and another rookie free-agent quarterback rise out of nowhere to become the franchise’s all-time leading passer. Seen Texas Stadium come crumbling down and AT&T Stadium rise from that gigantic hole in the ground.
Watched every carry of the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Saw Michael Irvin the day he arrived hugging the life-sized cardboard cutout of Tom Landry and similarly hugging Jerry Jones the day he retired. Seen tragedies and attended funerals.
Seen it all for 25 years, every step of the way only because someone forced me to take that first step running after a guy I had never met until 25 years ago this past Tuesday. Exhausting, yes. Exhilarating, you bet.
And maybe the best part: 25 years is but a milestone. Got a feeling there’s still much more to come.
Courtesy: Mickey Spagnola | Columnist
RELATED: 25th Anniversary of Jerry Jones’ ownership of the Dallas Cowboys
25 Years – Jerry Jones reflects on buying Dallas Cowboys; Replacing Tom Landry
This day, 25 years ago, Jerry Jones purchased the Dallas Cowboys. Listen to the Jerry Jones himself talk about the trials of the purchase, and the journey through the last twenty-five years.
Tuesday, Feb. 25 marked the 25th anniversary of Jerry Jones franchise purchase of the Dallas Cowboys from Bum Bright in 1989.
Jones spent more than an hour Sunday on the Cowboys bus outside Lucus Oil Stadium in Indianapolis reminiscing about the historic transaction and the days leading up to it _ the nervousness and excitement that caused him to develop a heart condition called Arrhythmia and the huge risk he took, considering the Cowboys were not only a mess on the field at the time but where swimming in debt, losing $1 million per month.
“It was quite a trying time for me. I get emotional talking about it and I’ve asked a professional about why I get emotional talking about it in public or private and they said, well, that was a traumatic time for you. It was a pretty significant reach risk-wise and I didn’t know how it was going to turn out, so it was a nervous time for me. I developed arrhythmia, and I had never had an unhealthy day in my life. Arrhythmia is called by a lot of people and a lot of med students get it. It was from not resting and never sleeping and then getting up just after you lay your head down. So that kind of describes for me that period of time.”
On the warning his father told him about what would happen if he failed:
“I didn’t know, but I quickly found out the visibility that was involved there. My father called me about 10 days, two weeks into this thing and he said, ‘Jerry, I had no idea this thing would have the visibility it’s got and he said, I don’t care you are a young guy, and he said, ‘I don’t care whether you do it by mirrors, smoke or what, if you are not successful, you’ve got to make it look successful or you will be known by a loser and you won’t be able to do anything else for the rest of your life in terms of getting people to go along with you.’ “
On his biggest regret:
“If I had a chance to do it over again I would’ve waited a year and just got my feet on the ground a little bit more and probably just gone with the staff that we had and then later made the ultimate changes that I made. If I had to do that over again, I probably would do it because probably it was the urgency with how fast we had to move. That got a lot of the criticism that the changes that were made with the staff.”
So you regret hiring Jimmy Johnson and firing Tom Landry so callously:
“I don’t regret what I said was looking back because that contributed to the seemingly insensitive way that coach Landry was changed out and that contributed to it, the fact that it was done at the same time that we made the announcement there 25 years ago, that we made the announcement that I was buying the team, that I was going to be the general manager and all of that was done almost the same night. As a matter of fact, that was done the same night. So if I look back at the criticism, that’s one where you might have taken more time.”
Was Jimmy Johnson always going to be the guy to replace Landry:
“I thought of Barry (Switzer). I did think of Barry. But Jimmy is, of course, more active. He probably had more proximity. I kept up with Jimmy. My oil and gas partners were in Oklahoma City and I spent a lot of time around them. They were very prominent in OSU, Oklahoma State’s athletic department. So that all fit real good. When I called Jimmy to tell him that I was looking at it, that I was interested — what would you think about joining me? His quote was: ‘I always wanted to be with you, work with you. If you called me to sell insurance, I’d sell insurance.’ So actually Jimmy came on and we officially – not officially – but we announced he was going to be the head coach and it was a significant period of time after that before we every got around to doing an agreement about money, before we even talked about money. He committed and left Miami and came to the Cowboys before we even talked about money.”
Jones on the nervousness of the financial risk because of the state of the Cowboys and NFL:
“I was excited. I was very nervous. I knew I had huge financial obligations. I knew they were ahead of me and I didn’t have all the answers as to how we were going to address them. I knew there were a lot of pitfalls in just the buying of the Cowboys, not necessarily clean. I bought 13 percent of the Cowboys from the FDIC. They had been foreclosed on. And so it was not in a nice complete operational routine. The franchise was not. All that made me extremely nervous. But had I not had the just sheer positiveness of just getting to be involved in the NFL, knowing that when I got up in the morning I would be in the NFL, knowing that I would be part of the Cowboys then those would have been issues in normal business that might have buckled my knees. But because it was so exciting to me to be part of the Cowboys I give that a lot of credit for working through those things. That was 25 years ago.”
Is the passion and excitement still there:
“Yes, of course. It is. Its actually there more than it was because I’m able to think more offense. I’m not as concerned as I was financially about the state of the franchise, about the NFL, about the game. The future is significantly brighter than it was in 1989 for the NFL, for pro football and for that matter pro sports today. I never thought Gene (his wife) would be waiting tables over this deal. But I did think it had the potential to really knock my stuff in the dirt. I knew that it did. Lamar Hunt got up at one of our NFL owners meetings maybe 12 to 13 years ago. He got up and told the entire ownership that the greatest risk I have ever seen taken in sports was the one the Jerry took when he bought the Cowboys, financial risk. He was well aware of the situation with Cowboys. He was well aware of the lay of the land”
Jones blames his reputation as an owner who only cares about making money on his aggressiveness of being an agent of change in the NFL because of the poor financial state of the Dallas Cowboys organization and the league at time.
“That’ll motivate you to be an agent of change. That’ll motivate you to want to change some things, and that was a part of the driving thing that early on in the NFL that I wanted to change for the benefit of everyone, but for the benefit of the clubs, for the benefit of the fans, I felt that we could do some things that would create more strength, more energy, and that was one of the reasons that I initially was as aggressive, and the other things was timing. I didn’t have time to sit there and wait on some of these changes 15 years or 10 years, you know the days and the time was burning, and so it had to be really, you had to move on it. So that’s one of the reasons that the perception of aggressiveness, or the perception of, for that matter, one of the things that I regret is that the perception about financial, the facts are I had financial security and gave it up to buy the Cowboys, and I didn’t buy the Cowboys to go make money. But once you get in the chair, once you get in the position, then you want to be as good and do as good as you can do. So that’s kind of how things have evolved over the years.”
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COORDINATING THE COORDINATORS: Jason Garrett’s focus shifting as Scott Linehan takes the offensive reins
Jones said (Watch Video | Play Audio) that was the design last year as well, but it didn’t end up working out as originally planned. The addition of Scott Linehan now means a new offense with new terminology and ideas, allowing Garrett to actually have more of a focus on defense than offense.
As Jones put it, Garrett “won’t have the last pencil down this year” the way he had last year when it comes to the offense.
“He’ll have a lot more time spent on defense than he will on offense,” Jones said. “We want his input on defense.”
Jones said he wants Garrett to work with the defensive staff and use his offensive mind to show how he’d attack a defensive plan.
“His focus on the defense I think is going to make a big difference,” Jones said. “You’ve got Linehan’s head coaching experience, you’ve got Bill (Callahan) with head coaching experience, you’ve got (Derek) Dooley with head coaching experience, you’ve got some great experience.
“And we have the need to see if there are aspects of what we can do offensively that are different than what we’ve been doing over the last six years. We have that need and we’re going to get it. We’re going to get that without throwing the baby out with the bath water.”
Jones reiterated that Linehan will come in with “completely real change” on offense, including different terminology with his scheme.
“He’s got a track record of really zeroing in and building the offense around the talent, the specific talent and qualities of the players,” Jones said. “(Tony) Romo has certain skills and talents and abilities and has very unique mental capabilities on the field. He’ll make it go.”
Jones said Garrett, who coached with Scott Linehan in Miami, has enough confidence in what the new play-caller can bring that he’s willing to step further back and essentially hand over the offensive duties.
But he wasn’t going to pass up on adding Linehan when that opportunity presented itself.
Jones said Tony Romo had “serious discussions” with Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford about Linehan and now has a great feel for Linehan’s imagination and what Linehan can do to maximize players’ skills while bringing flexibility in the scheme within the parameters of the offense.
He said Romo and Linehan will be locked at the hip and that the most excited person in the Cowboys’ organization about the addition of Linehan was Romo, who will still have a great deal of power within the offense.
“Romo was a tremendous supporter of Bill Callahan, but was absolutely ecstatic over us getting Linehan,” Jones said.
Jones believes Garrett’s learned a great deal and is more season and knowledgeable as a coach after years with the team, but doesn’t mind the idea of having a “lame duck coach.” He said he thinks people can sometimes work stronger without knowing their future and that Garrett has a “high tolerance for ambiguity.”
Even without an extension before the year, though, Jones said the plan is for Garrett to be the coach beyond this upcoming season.
Entering his last year of his deal, Garrett has to hope the changes made pay off quickly. Jones said he believes having the experience of multiple coaches on staff who were once head coaches should benefit Garrett. He said it’s a big deal for Garrett’s future that he gets the experience of working with the coaches around him.
“You know that every time he looks in his players’ eyes that most of those guys right there if they have a bad year or mess up or take an injury, that that’s there year, too,” Jones said. “We are dealing with those kinds of what ifs. But this is the one I’m comfortable with – the status we are in right now with our staff. I like our staff. Jason should know, and I know that he knows, that the plan here has been for him to be long-term, and long-term certainly being beyond this year, the coach of the Dallas Cowboys.”
Jerry Jones: Jason Garrett’s focus to shift
Jerry Jones spoke about why Jason Garret’s primary focus will be on the defensive side of the ball this season, and what makes him capable to take on that role.
COORDINATING THE COORDINATORS: Jerry Jones confirms that Jason Garrett, not Bill Callahan, was the Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator in 2013
INDIANAPOLIS – Owner/general manager Jerry Jones shed some light today on head coach Jason Garrett’s role in the offense last year, which was greater than expected going into the season.
Jones said it’s a fact that Garrett was really the offensive coordinator last year, despite Bill Callahan having that title. The Dallas Cowboys entered the year with a plan to lighten Garrett’s offensive load, but that didn’t come to fruition the way they’d planned.
“That was one of the issues,” Jones said. “It was unfair to Bill, but it was the offense that we’d had since we got there and it was very difficult. That’s why we had such a hard time articulating it early. That’s why we made some of the switches we made during the middle of the season. All of it was just manifested by the fact that it was just very difficult for Jason to get out of that role.”
Jones said Garrett ended up having “the last pencil down all the way through.” The original plan and design for Callahan to call the plays and serve as the play-caller changed, and Jones said Callahan was frustrated and should have been.
Jones still called Callahan “a hell of a coach” and said he’ll be involved heavily in the offense this year, although the offense will focus around incoming offensive coordinator and play-caller Scott Linehan.
“There’s a difference when you’re sitting in the room as the head coach and you say, ‘Wait a minute, you put some salt and pepper in there,’” Jones said. “Then, after it’s already been cooked and you’re tasting it outside the room and you say it might need a little salt and pepper. There’s a big difference. One you’re involved in the cooking, and one you’re not. Jason was involved in the cooking last year. That’s just a fact, and everybody knows that, really, or should. That won’t be the case this year, and the addition of Linehan caused that. So it will be cooked.” (Translation: “Too many cooks in the kitchen” … “the main Chef was being burned”)
The explanation can get confusing, and the answers get a little more convoluted when it comes to the play-calling process between Callahan, Garrett, quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, and Tony Romo. But the bottom line is Garrett had more say in the offense than originally planned (or publically disclosed), and Jones added that Romo had the final say play-calling say.
“More importantly than anything, the guy that’s ultimately calling the plays is on the football field, the quarterback, Romo,” Jones said. “He’s the one that’s got the check outs, he’s the one that’s got the ability to decide the run, pass, a lot of options and not just in the red zone and not just in hurry-up, two-minute. Not just there, although he was really predominant in the red zone and really dominant in no-back, that type thing.” (Translation: Tony Romo had veto power over Callahan that may be scaled back somewhat under Linehan)
Jones said last year Garrett felt he needed to have more of a presence on offense than originally planned. So, when did it become apparent that Callahan wasn’t going to be as involved in the play-calling as originally expected?
“That evolved as it went along,” Jones said. “Again, it evolved, but you get in situations during the season that have lesser time to sit back and say, ‘Wait, what are we doing here? How are we doing it?’ And make no mistake about it, it was something that was being discussed, which isn’t uncommon at all, vigorously in the staff rooms.”
Editors comments: Bill Callahan’s title of ‘Offensive Coordinator’ was always in “title only” used to fulfill the NFL rules in regard to hiring procedures. Callahan’s original responsibility (when he was hired) was to coach the offensive line and serve as the OL coordinator as it pertains to the passing and running phases. Last season, this was never Bill Callahan’s offense. As we’ve pointed out many times on The Boys Are Back website (last season), he was assigned the additional responsibility of ‘play-caller’ for Jason Garrett’s offensive game plans in an attempt to delegate a large portion of Garrett’s gameday focus. As the year progressed, changes were made in the way calls were delivered to Tony Romo. The chain of command was shortened (simplified) to a more fluid Box2Garrett2Romo delivery system.
All of this offseason talk about Callahan’s ‘demotion’ is ridiculous. His value to the Dallas Cowboys offense is (and has always been) his coaching of offensive linemen in the zone blocking scheme and also his input into their individual abilities as it pertains to the running and passing phases of Garrett’s system. Callahan is going back to what he does best … coach and consult. In simplified terms, looking ahead into this season, the Dallas Cowboys have a passing game coordinator, running game coordinator, and OL coordinator that help new actual offensive coordinator Scott Linehan formulate an offensive game plan. This will be Linehan’s offense. It will incorporate Jason Garrett’s offensive philosophy. You will see significant similarities (and production) to the Jason Garrett offense you’ve seen in the past. As the team moves ahead, look for a Linehan2Garrett2Romo or a direct Linehan2Romo delivery system to be utilized with this new structure.
NO EXECUTIVE DECISION: Unlikely that Troy Aikman will move into Dallas Cowboys front office any time soon
IRVING, Texas – It doesn’t appear that Troy Aikman will be in the Dallas Cowboys front office any time soon.
The former Cowboys star quarterback and current television sportscaster’s interest in a front office job has been a topic lately (Super Bowl week rumor related to John Elway’s success after being hired by Denver as the Broncos General Manager), but Aikman quelled some of those notions and mentioned how Dallas would be an unlikely fit if he eventually decides to work his way into a managerial role with a team.
“I answered the question on Sunday and it’s just, ‘Oh, that’s an easy question, that’s an easy story, let’s go ask Troy about this.’ It just continues, and there’s not a story there,” Aikman said Thursday on Sportsradio 1310 and 96.7 FM The Ticket. “As it relates to Dallas, which is where everyone here in the Metroplex goes with it is, ‘Oh, OK, Dallas.’ Well that’s not going to happen in Dallas because of the structure of this organization. I think everybody knows that.”
Aikman said it’s an easy question and story to ask him about a potential move to the front office and a potential general manager job, but he said his comments on that have remained consistent the last two weeks with his thoughts the last 10 years.
“I think some people maybe hear my comments and they think, ‘Oh, well he thinks he can just step right into a GM role after having been a broadcaster like Matt Millen did,’” Aikman said. “That’s not it at all. In fact, what I have said to many people is that if it were something I wanted to pursue – and I’m not sure that it is and I’m not sure that it’s not – but if it was something I wanted to pursue, now would be the time to start preparing myself for that and get involved with an organization, start learning what has to be learned.”
Before that can happen, he said there are steps that have to be taken. First, the timing has to be right. In addition, he wants to be able to put in the amount of time it would require for him to do his job to the best of his ability.
“I don’t believe there are any shortcuts in anything in life,” Aikman said. “Then the question becomes, well, whenever the timing is right for me to do that, how old am I going to be and how much time do I want to then serve in an apprenticeship-type situation to ultimately go on and do what I’d like to do?
“There’s a lot of factors in there, it’s just, I guess where I could have maybe handled it differently is just said, ‘No, I have zero interest in it.’ But then that’s not being honest. I’ve answered the question as honestly as I could.”
He’s not sure if anything will materialize at this point with him eventually taking a front office position. But any talk of him jumping at a specific job in the near future or him being in talks with a team right now doesn’t appear likely.
With Jerry Jones as the owner, president, and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys and him not relinquishing any of those titles in the near future, and with Jones’ son, Stephen, as the team’s executive vice president, it doesn’t appear likely Aikman’s future in the front office will be in Dallas.
“It’s a little bit like the question every year is, ‘Hey, all right, do you think Jerry the owner should fire Jerry the general manager?’ How redundant is that argument?” Aikman said. “So, it’s a little bit the same way, that nothing like that would happen in Dallas.”
COORDINATING THE COORDINATORS: With Scott Linehan hiring, the Dallas Cowboys have a proven play-caller more compatible with Jason Garrett’s offensive philosophy
The Dallas Cowboys apparently have hired a play-caller that Jason Garrett trusts.
Sure, other teams hire general managers, who hire head coaches, who hire assistants. There’s usually not much intrigue. If they win, they stay. If they lose, they get fired. You don’t need an MBA to figure out the business model.
Here, the GM has a lifetime contract. He can do whatever he wants. He can hire assistants before he hires the coach, or he can hire assistants after he hires the coach. The head coach must be flexible.
Jason Garrett is slowly asserting himself as head coach.
Consider the evolution of Garrett’s staff. Last year, Jerry gave him his second defensive coordinator and first play-caller. Midway through the season, Garrett asserted himself. With the offense struggling, he could have fired Callahan or stripped him of his title. Instead, he inserted himself in the Romo relay. He made his point without contradicting his boss.
Make no mistake: Jerry hired Bill Callahan and Monte Kiffin, and he wanted both back this year. Frankly, it’s OK. Change either or both, and it means three coaches in three years in those roles. Constant change is rarely the trademark of excellence.
You could argue that Kiffin did a lousy job with the defense. But you may also remember that Tony Dungy, who won a lot of games with the defense Kiffin employs, said it would take two or three years before the Dallas Cowboys had the proper personnel to run the Tampa Cover-2. And that was before so many players got hurt that Kiffin should have resorted to police tape and barricades.
The offense had its moments, too, even with the dysfunctional chain of command on play-calling and an apparent lack of understanding that, in football, you run the ball 1.) until somebody stops you, and 2.) when you’re trying to burn some clock. The offensive line was better than it’s been in years, no doubt contributing to Jerry’s desire to keep Bill Callahan under contract.
Jason Garrett knows the ground rules by now. If he didn’t learn them when he played for Jerry, or when Jerry hired him as offensive coordinator (even before hiring Wade Phillips), he learned every time his boss reupholstered his staff.
Slowly but surely, though, Jason Garrett is asserting himself. Derek Dooley, the wide receivers coach hired last year, is a Garrett guy. So is Mike Pope, the new tight ends coach. And Scott Linehan, too.
DALLAS COWBOYS COACHES ROSTER: Jerry Jones moving forward with both coordinators in 2014 | Jason Garrett focusing on filling empty coaching staff positions
MOBILE, Ala. – The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff roaming the sidelines at the Senior Bowl will look familiar.
Team owner/general manager Jerry Jones said nothing has changed with his coordinators and “there’s nothing there at all” regarding potential changes. He added that he plans on all the coaches still under contract staying aboard.
“The status of it is nothing,” Jones said. “The status is the contracts that are there, everybody’s here. That’s the way you ought to read it, not anticipate anything. I wouldn’t anticipate a thing.”
Jones stuck by Jason Garrett throughout the 2013 season and even after the end of a third straight 8-8 season, but the Cowboys’ head coach is entering the final year of his contract and it doesn’t appear that deal will be extended hastily. Jones said he hasn’t had any thought about that at this point in the year.
“I don’t pay any attention to lame duck status, what you call lame duck status,” Jones said. “I don’t have that term, because I don’t know that there’s such a thing. We’ve got huge, a lifetime, of work ahead of us over the next few weeks. To even consider that needs anything more than an agreement to do this year is not a big thing to me. It’s just too much takeaway from what we’re trying to do right now, which is just get cranked up for 2014.”
Then again, that doesn’t mean he’s lost belief in his head coach or that the pay day won’t come. He said he wants to be there when it does happen.
He gave, and has continued to give, Garrett multiple years to develop his system and get it in place. The same may be going for his coordinators with another year to make adjustments.
“I had a guy tell me one time how to be successful, that no human can be right over 50 percent of the time on any decision, but it’s the ones that cut their bad ones off quick and let their good ones run long (that work out),” Jones said. “That’s hard to do. That’s hard to accept quickly to cut a bad decision off quick.
“We all know the adage of the gold miner that walked away and the other one that took one more swing and hit the pick and found the gold stream. So, you don’t want to quit. It’s easier said than done to let your mistakes go short and your good decisions long.”
It’s getting close to decision time with many veteran Cowboys players and staff members. Most of the focus this offseason has centered on defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, who don’t appear to be going anywhere.
Jones said he doesn’t have to convince people on staff that it’s a good decision to keep Kiffin. He only had to convince “the man in the mirror.”
“Did we discuss and get input on a lot of things? Absolutely,” Jones said. “But what we did not do is have a big debate or management session regarding Monte Kiffin. We didn’t do that. That decision was made last year.
“When you look at the fundamentals of a Monte Kiffin and you look at the fundamentals of his work and you look at what he is and you look at the fact that you decided scheme wise that you liked that competing in the NFL today, then that weighs you from cutting that short. The answer is I didn’t want to cut it short over on defense and some of the same principles are true with cutting it short on Jason, on going on when I talk about I want to be here for the pay day, and this is pay day time for Jason.”
Everything appears to be status quo regarding the coaches still under contract in Dallas, from the head coach down to the assistants.
At some point this offseason, the focus will begin to turn to the contracts of players. But Jones said the team isn’t working on any restructures yet and it’s too early at this point in the year to focus on that.
RELATED: Jason Garrett focusing on filling empty staff positions
MOBILE, Ala. – The Dallas Cowboys coaching situation seems to be clearer.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett spoke about the job security of Bill Callahan and Monte Kiffin today, just one day after team owner/general manager Jerry Jones affirmed that the offensive and defensive coordinator were still under contract for 2014.
Garrett, who is beginning his fourth year as head coach, reiterated Jones’ stance from Monday afternoon, though he added that staff evaluations are still ongoing following the 2013 season.
“Like he said, those guys are under contract. We’re always trying to figure out ways to do better, and that starts with us as a coaching staff,” Garrett said. “We’ll keep looking at what everyone’s roles are and how everything settles down.”
Whether or not those roles would change going forward, though, Garrett declined to say. There has been some (media) speculation that Kiffin and Callahan’s positions could change despite remaining with the Cowboys, but Garrett did not add to it.
“Those guys are under contract, and we feel good about that,” he said. “We’re always going to try to do things that are in the best interest of our football team, so we’ll keep looking at how we can be better as a staff and what roles everybody is in and what we’re asking them to do. But those guys are really good football coaches.”
Instead, Garrett said the current focus was on filling the empty positions on his staff. The Cowboys lost tight ends coach Wes Phillips to the Redskins last week, and they parted ways with assistant special teams coach Chris Boniol after the season.
“We do have some coaches who are out of contract, and we’re trying to get those things settled,” he said. “We’re just in the process of those conversations right now.”
Reports indicated earlier in the week that the Cowboys would replace Boniol with Carlos Polk, who served as an intern under special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia last season. Polk, who also worked with Bisaccia on the Chargers’ coaching staff, confirmed Tuesday that looks to be the case – though his contract isn’t finalized.
“It has not been finalized, but he’s someone who really was a good addition to our team this year. Bisaccia has some history with him in San Diego, and he really came in and played a very prominent role for us on that special teams unit,” Garrett said.
Former Giants tight ends coach Mike Pope has also come up as a potential replacement for Phillips. Pope coached in New York for 23 seasons and was a member of all four of the team’s Super Bowl staffs before the Giants fired him last week.
Pope was coaching in New York when Garrett was a quarterback with the Giants from 2000-03, providing a logical connection.
“There are a number of guys that we’ve talked about in that situation. Mike is a good friend of mine and obviously a very good coach,” Garrett said.
IRVING, Texas — Maybe there is a different way to look at Jerry Jones’ decision to keep Jason Garrett as the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach for a fourth season.
Maybe the owner is aware the general manager has not delivered enough for the head coach to have more than an 8-8 record. Bill Parcells used to say the goal was to get his team to play to the level that he perceived it to be.
Jerry Jones must allow Jason Garrett more control of his own fate.
Could Jones be conceding he has not done enough for Garrett, despite his statements that the Dallas Cowboys had a chance to not only make the playoffs but make a run to the Super Bowl as well? It requires you to believe Jones separates the owner job description from the general manager job description, but it is not that far-fetched.
Late in the season, Jones mentioned the team lacked the personnel in some key spots because of injuries. Of the 12 regulars — including the nickel corner — on defense, seven were in their projected spots when training camp began in the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne essentially flipped roles. George Selvie, Nick Hayden, DeVonte Holloman, Kyle Wilber, and Jeff Heath were starters.
Perhaps Garrett maximized the 8-8 finish this year and last year because of injuries.
In his address to the media Monday, Garrett repeated the statement he made after the 2012 season ended in a Week 17 loss in an NFC East title game: it takes time to build a program. While he acknowledged wins and losses matter most, he failed to recognize the guy he lost to last week, Chip Kelly, was in his first year and took over a 4-12 team. Mike McCoy brought the San Diego Chargers to the playoffs in his first year. Andy Reid took the Kansas City Chiefs to the postseason after they had the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft.
Jerry Jones has a lot invested in Garrett beyond money. He believes in how Garrett is building the team and how he prepares the team. Quibble about the execution, but players’ effort has not been an issue with Garrett as coach. Jones wants Garrett to be his long-term coach. If Garrett finishes out 2014, only Jimmy Johnson will have coached the Cowboys longer under Jones.
Jones is right to bring back Garrett in 2014.
What he needs to do now is allow Garrett more control of his own fate. If Garrett wants to call plays, then let Garrett call plays. If Garrett wants to change the defensive coordinator, then let him, and if he doesn’t want to replace Monte Kiffin, Garrett will only be hurting himself.
Jones made sure everybody was “uncomfortable” in 2013 and it produced the same 8-8 record. He wanted Bill Callahan to call plays. He wanted Kiffin. He wanted Tony Romo more involved in the offense. He wanted Garrett to become a walk-around head coach.
Much will be made of Garrett’s lame-duck status in 2014 but if he doesn’t win, then he shouldn’t get an extension.
The pressure will be good.
It’s time Jones is “uncomfortable.” At least a little bit anyway.
NO CHANGE, FOR THE SAKE OF CHANGE: Veterans express faith in Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett
IRVING, Texas – A third straight 8-8 season hasn’t lost the core veterans’ faith in Jason Garrett.
“When you think about the thing that he brings to the team, him being a great leader to us, motivating us, each and every week no matter what the circumstance is, he’s had three seasons where he’s been 8-8 and not part of the NFC East championship, but that lets you know that he is there,” Ware said. “We do have opportunities and we can’t forget that. He’s a great coach and I’m behind him 100 percent.”
It appears their owner/general manager feels the same way, as Jerry Jones has stated his belief in Garrett and how he’s decided to move forward with Garrett regardless of the bitter ending.
Jones said records don’t always indicate the talent of a coach. He also pointed to the fact that the Dallas Cowboys have been in position to win the division three straight years, rather than the fact that they failed to cash in on that opportunity every time.
If frustration would build on any group of players, it’s the veterans who’ve been through the consistent disappointments for years upon years. That group would include Witten, but he’s also behind his head coach entirely.
He said it’s reassuring to hear Jones’ faith in Garrett and the likelihood of the head coach sticking around. Meanwhile, six other coaches were immediately canned after a failed season, including Mike Shanahan with the NFC East rival Redskins.
“I think the guys in this locker room would do anything for Coach Garrett,” Witten said. “We’re so fortunate to have him. You want to win for each other, but you also want to win for a guy that pours everything into your football team for a head coach and gives you every opportunity.”
Witten said he understands it’s a bottom-line business, and the bottom line is the Cowboys haven’t made the playoffs with three straight opportunities in Week 17 win-or-go-home games. But he’s glad to hear from Jones that Garrett will likely have another chance to change that fate.
“That was great for me to hear and I think for our team to hear, because he’s very well respected in this locker room and guys are all in for him as the head coach,” Witten said.
From 5-3 to 8-8 to 8-8 to 8-8, it’s difficult to point to or to justify significant progress made during Garrett’s tenure as a head coach when looking at wins and losses. But while the record wouldn’t show it, Witten said there has been progress in some areas.
“Last year, we didn’t run the ball very well,” he said. “This year, we proved that we could. There’s different things. We didn’t turn the ball over very much.”
Ultimately, though, he knows the Dallas Cowboys need to find ways to not just say things need to change. He said the Cowboys have to find ways to do it and come out the other end.
Rather than focus on yet another late season defeat, Cowboys players said Garrett’s final message centered more on how proud he was of the group and to be a part of their journey. But the tone from his head coach and his owner both weren’t cheery.
“There’s a tone of disappointment from everybody because of the way we ended the season,” Ware said. “But you can’t sort of look at it and be so negative about that, knowing that you had the guys in place to get the job done but you just didn’t pull it through. There were, I don’t know, five games where we lost within either a point or two.”
In total, the 2013 Dallas Cowboys finished 2-5 in games decided by three points or fewer and 1-4 in games decided by two points or fewer.
“You’ve got to be able to look and think about, ‘What could we have done to get over that hump and win those games?’ Ware said. “That’s what you’ve got to think about this offseason and let that be the motivating factor to keep pushing.”
The Jerry Jones Show: Jason Garrett’s future; Stance on coordinators | 16:17
Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones speaks with 105.3 The Fan for his final weekly show and talks about the decision to stick with Jason Garrett, and what the status is on the coordinators (Bill Callahan and Monte Kiffin) for both sides of the ball. (Watch Video | Listen Audio)
RELATED: Jerry Jones reaffirms his faith in Jason Garrett; Focusing on players
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones left no doubts about the future of head coach Jason Garrett today.
Jones reaffirmed on 105.3 FM “The Fan” that he had made his decision to retain Garrett and that it wasn’t a decision he made recently. He said he decided that several weeks ago and that he likes what Garrett’s doing as a coach.
“One thing that’s a positive here is we’ve been in it,” Jones said. “We’ve been in it the last three years. Jason’s been on this staff going on seven years now. But we have been in it, during his time as head coach, we have been in it, right there playing for it, in the last game for the last three years.”
Jones said there’s a positive to competing and being in the mix in the division in the final week every year, but he also said he’s right there with fans wanting more than 8-8 and not having to play for a division title in the last game every year.
“That’s where we can have improvement,” he said.
With the news that Garrett would return, the attention now focuses on the future of the other coaches and coordinators. Jones said in this business, players and coaches can lose their jobs if they don’t get the job done with or without a contract, but he wouldn’t get into the specifics of many of the coaches’ contracts.
Jones said he was pleased he had defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan this year. That’s despite the Cowboys finishing last in the league in total defense and questions popping up throughout the year regarding the offensive play-calling.
The owner didn’t specifically state that those coordinators will stay next year, but he said to assume the coaching staff’s contract statuses will remain intact until they decide differently. He said those coordinators mentioned previously are still under contract.
“When we got them, I’ve never had as many people talk about, ‘Well, boy, you have really upgraded or, not upgraded would be the word, but you have really added a plus to the coaching staff,’” Jones said. “Now we had a rough year, but we didn’t necessarily have a rough year because of coaching, in terms of our defense. All that will be considered as we look forward.”
He also said the Cowboys won’t have the changes in the coaching staff area that they had last year. As far as what decisions will be made, Jones said he will look at that with Garrett going forward, but they haven’t discussed that in depth yet.
“We’ve made some philosophical changes this year with (Tony) Romo and his influence that he has in the offense,” Jones said. “We’ve made some changes regarding the philosophy of the defense. We need to practice that, we need to improve that, to the extent we can add personnel, which we certainly can through the draft.”
Most of Jones’ focus now seems to be on personnel rather than coaching. He said he’s had recent years where he thought the talent on the field was greater than it was this year, specifically because of the injuries the team sustained, but he also thought the team should have had more success with Romo on the field for 15 of 16 games.
“But when I look at the challenges that we had, frankly, and the numbers of players we had to bring on the roster and get on the field in a relatively short amount of time that for the most time weren’t a part of rosters or maybe aren’t going to be a part of rosters this year, I think we did a pretty good job getting the team out there under the circumstances,” Jones said. “Having said that, one of the things you look at is your depth.”