I'm still hoping somebody is going to come through with a new football for me before Christmas is over. I want a new football for Christmas. All I've ever wanted for Christmas is a new football. A new football with a new football feel, and a new football smell, and thick, high, gleaming white laces that cut like razor blades until that new ball gets broken in after 90 days or 63,000 throws and catches--whichever comes first. A real football. No toys allowed.
New...football. Could there be a more beautiful word pairing? New football leads to more football, and future football, and next season, and seasons beyond, and hopes and dreams and goals and aspirations. New football. May all of our friends here at BTB receive the "new football" of their dreams.
On balance, I'm bullish on Cowboy "New Football." JG is effecting a cultural change, at least to the limits of his organizational reach. But Garrett can only do so much. The problem, and it is a pervasive problem, is his boss.
No reasonable person can question Jerry Jones' desire to win. But no reasonable person can deny that Jones himself is an impediment to the winning he--and we--so deeply desire.
Let me head you off at the pass. Yes, I am aware that three of those five Lombardi Trophies in the case were earned on Jerry's watch. I also know they were won in a different NFL than the one we observe today, an NFL with no salary cap. Taking nothing away from The Deified Triplets, the key to the Cowboys' dominance in the early to mid 90s was unprecedented--and since unequaled--depth in the defensive line. Unencumbered by a cap, the Cowboys (and, yes, Jones gets considerable credit) stockpiled seven or eight topflight D-linemen with complementary talents. The Jimmy Johnson 'Boys (and make no mistake, they were still the Jimmy Johnson 'Boys clean through that Super Bowl XXX victory two years after his departure) just bludgeoned opposing offenses into protoplasmic jelly. Virtually any NFL personnel man will tell you that after quarterbacks, defensive linemen are the most difficult players to find and develop. And the Jimmy Johnson Cowboys, running a four-man front, were two-deep in DL studs. We will never again see that in the NFL.
The Cowboys' cultural problem is that Jones is stuck in an early-90s time warp. The modern NFL is all about resource allocation, and Jerry is not good at allocating finite resources. He was much more comfortable, and infinitely more successful, when he had seemingly infinite resources at his disposal.
Ronnie Millsap sang of being "Lost in the 60s." Jones is lost in the 90s.
Whether it's chasing past-their-prime free agents or (over)paying young players before they've proved their lasting value, Jones is like a wannabe musician who's always a half-step out of tune--and almost always a half-step flat.
But the cultural problems don't end there. The 'Boys will never again realize their on-field potential until and unless Jones focuses all of his efforts on his core business--football. Don't misunderstand me. There's nothing wrong with Jones marketing his product--until the marketing becomes more of a focal point than the product itself.
Yep, Cowboy TV ratings are still through the roof. Merchandise sales are still boffo. Yep, that's a helluva stadium. Last summer's training camp was once again a carnival, this time in three different locations. And the Dallas Cowboys are 5-9 as I write.
Carnival. I keep coming back to that word. P.T. Jones' carnival was a smashing success in the 1990s NFL business and competitive model. But today that same carny boardwalk is more like walking the plank.
Carnivals collapse and close in today's NFL. Watch what happens to the remainder of the New York Jets' season.
Read the end-of-year American business reviews. Look at all the companies and corporations who lost sight of their "core business" and paid dearly for it.
Jerry Jones is a smart man. Ironic that a businessman who prides himself on being "forward thinking" and "cutting edge" is stuck in an outdated mindset and business model. Jerry Jones is a smart man. Smart enough to realize that a lot of his problems are reflected in his mirror.
I want a New Football for Christmas--literally and metaphorically.
I also want a Christmas night win over the Cards. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays again, Cowboy Nation.