If the Dallas Cowboys want to escape mediocrity, Jerry Jones needs to accept the fact that all of this is his fault.
There’s so much that Jones has done, or hasn’t done, that is ultimately costing the organization as a whole. Let’s start with the man in charge, Jason Garrett. Garrett, when originally hired in 2010 after Wade Phillips was fired, was known as an offensive guru but he’s never really lived up to that expectation. Garrett has been pretty average as a head coach in his seven full seasons at the helm and not much has changed midway through his eighth season. So, the only explanation as to why Garrett is still the Dallas Head Coach comes down to one thing: his relationship with Jerry Jones.
Jerry Jones is the man who fired Tom Landry immediately after purchasing the team. Jones also fired his close friend, Jimmy Johnson, after Johnson led Dallas to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the 90’s. Jones is capable of making unpopular decisions, so why won’t he fire Garrett when it’s obvious that he needs to be fired? I think it comes down to stubbornness. Beyond Garrett only having two double digit win seasons (both of which ended in divisional round losses to Green Bay), the Cowboys’ problems trickle down to the personnel too.
After getting beat by the lowly Titans at home on Monday Night Football, Jerry Jones was asked about Dak Prescott’s future as the Cowboys’ Quarterback. Jones quickly said, “Listen, Dak is the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, he’s young, and he’s going to get extended.” So there is another problem that links back to Jerry Jones: roster construction and decision making.
It’s clear that Jones isn’t very adept at talent evaluation. Aside from Prescott’s rookie year, where he somehow won Offensive Rookie of the Year, he has been incredibly average as a passer. In his last 24 games, Dak has totaled less than 200 yards passing in a game 12 times. So, 50% of his games in 2017 and so far in 2018 have resulted in less than 200 passing yards. In that same span, Prescott has only thrown for 250+ yards six times, or 25% of the time.
Again, Jerry Jones thought he knew what he was doing when he cut Dez Bryant and replaced him with Allen Hurns as Dallas’ top receiving option. It only took him seven weeks of the regular season, but he eventually recognized he was wrong for not adequately replacing Bryant. So what did Jones do? He traded for a wide receiver. Josh Gordon for a 5th round pick? Nah, New England got him. Golden Tate for a third round pick? Nope, Tate went to Philly for that deal. Amari Cooper for a 2019 first round pick? Yeah! Dallas was all over that one!
Look, I think Amari Cooper is a talented receiver but it’s clear he struggled as the top option in Oakland and he has had battles with drops and overall consistency. Is that really a good pairing for an offense that likes to run more than pass, because it kind of has to, with subpar QB play and an average defense at best? Is Amari Cooper, who is due nearly $14 million next year with the final year of his rookie deal, really worth the price tag of a first round pick when Dallas could’ve selected a top receiver in the upcoming draft?
If there’s anywhere I can give credit to Jones, it’s building the offensive line and drafting Ezekiel Elliott (although the Elliott pick was incredibly obvious at the time). When Dallas can control the ground game, it hides Dak Prescott’s flaws as a quarterback. The problem is Dak Prescott isn’t going to help you win games. However, he can certainly lose it for your team if he’s forced to air it out.
Jerry Jones is clearly the biggest problem in Dallas, along with that Jason Garrett and Dak Prescott also deserve a lot of the blame. Amari Cooper will have a chance to live up to his first round expectations and to make that trade pay off for Dallas, but I remain skeptical that Cooper can be the #1 wide receiver for a great team.
If Dallas wants to get back to winning Super Bowls, or at least more than two playoff games in 20+ years, then Jerry Jones needs to take a look in the mirror and realize he’s the problem. It all starts with him and nothing will change until he decides to change.