I have decided against doing the shame report for this week, as I have not been able (after much thinking) to find actual shameful behavior in our game against the Patriots this week. In most games you will have a team that LOSES the game more often than you will have a team actually winning. What I mean by this is that a team will make costly mistakes and shoot themselves in the foot and lose a game more often than they will simply be outplayed by the other team. This was one of the rare games where both teams played their hearts out and one team just simply outplayed the other one. Truly a great game that was of a "super bowl" caliber in entertainment value.
Now that I have gotten that out of the way, lets talk about this feeling of nostalgia that I sense in the Cowboys organization. This is a word that I have been pondering for some time when I think about the ways of the Dallas Cowboys organization. For those of you that don't know, nostalgia is defined as a sentimental or wistful yearning for the happiness felt in a former place, time, or situation.
There is a scene in the movie Iron Man that uses this word in the same way that I am going to apply it in this post. I could not find a clip on youtube or any other medium so the quote will have to do.
Virginia 'Pepper' Potts: [about Stark's old arc reactor] What do you want me to do with this?
Tony Stark: That? Destroy it. Incinerate it.
Virginia 'Pepper' Potts: You don't want to keep it?
Tony Stark: Pepper, I've been called many things. Nostalgic is not one of them.
In this scene you can find a little better feel for the word, being somewhat of a fear of throwing things out because of tradition or just simply not being good with goodbyes or whatever it might be. Not to bring up negatives of the late Al Davis (may he rest in peace) but this was one of the knocks on him as a GM. He loved his players (nothing wrong with that) but he did it to a point where releasing a player that was not performing as he should just wasn't in his nature. I believe that Jerry Jones is a lot like Al Davis in that he loves his players, though not quite in the way that Al Davis did. If you have seen the movie "There Will Be Blood" it gives an example (though to an extreme) of what it is like to be a business man and an oil man (like Jerry was before). However, coming into the league Al Davis was one of the first to welcome him and they became good friends, and probably rubbed off on him a little bit.
I think a lot of us have seen over the years (and some even become frustrated with) the fact that Jerry has always held onto players past their prime and not been one to let players go. It wasn't that way when he first came into the league because he let coach Jimmy Johnson have pretty much full control over the personnel and players and form the team the way he saw fit. From what we know, Jerry has pretty much promised this same power to Jason Garrett. However, the culture change that Jason Garrett may be enacting may not just be amongst the players, but all of the way up to the Owner and CEO, Grandpa Jerry himself.
Tell me, honestly, did any of you, before the lockout ended, expect (truthfully) that Roy Williams, Marion Barber AND Leonard Davis would all be released? Three former Pro Bowlers (that were under-performing) on the roster now gone, only one day into football business. I for one felt that they all should happen, if they couldn't find a trade partner for any of them, and hence no longer be on this team. However, I did not expect ALL of them to go. Then later on Andre Gurode (another pro bowler) is released and a way is made for the younger guys to step up even more. Cutting four starters in a single off-season is rare for any team, much less for the Dallas Cowboys.
However, even with all of these cuts and new players at the positions and stepping up as starters, there were still other players that we, as fans (in our inexperience of actually managing a professional sports team/billion dollar business), felt should be shown the door either through trade or the proverbial guillotine. We have heard rumors of potential trades that were in the mix this season, but now that the trade deadline has come and gone, we can all calm down knowing that no more trades can now be made until March of 2012.
My point is that I feel that Jerry Jones has developed a case of nostalgia, which of all people should know, that in a business (which the NFL is) to be truly successful, there is no place for being nostalgic. We know that Jerry has had no problem getting rid of coaches and staff members, but those are probably easier to look at as employees, as they aren't kids coming into the league and some (Wade Phillips) are close to the age that Jerry is. But players, just like the coaches are employees of the team as well. Otherwise why would there need to be a collective bargaining agreement, which is basically an agreement that any conglomerate will have with its employees.
I feel that Jason Garrett and other members of the staff do not share the same sense of nostalgia, which is why we have seen an abnormal (compared to what we are used to) amount of movement and "churning of the roster", if you will, this season. However, I believe that the culture change still has yet to totally sink in at the top of the organization. This must happen before the Dallas Cowboys can truly get back to "The Cowboy Way".
It is essential that a great coach believes in his players, but he must also trust his players as well. He must know that anyone on that team is going to leave everything on the field. That is what Jimmy Johnson demanded, and what Garrett knew and now refers to as "The Cowboy Way". It is many other things as well, but that is the base of it all right there. Having the ability to put those players on the field, and the rest sitting on the sideline having the same attitude, is part of the Cowboy way, and there is no sense for a feeling of Nostalgia. Now Jerry Jones and the rest of the organization does not have to be quite like Tony Starks and say "Destroy it. Incinerate It." However, he can take a chapter from his book. Destroy and incinerate would mean cutting a player and getting nothing in return rather than seeking a potential trade. We all know how the movie turns out and that "Old Arc Reactor" still was useful and still had some value, so a very good thing that it was not simply destroyed/incinerated (or for simply the sake of the movie plot alone, gotten rid of at all).
This is not a "hate post" directed toward Jerry Jones or anyone in the organization (or really bashing anyone in any way, shape or form for that matter). This is simply stating that there is a culture change that is still a work in process. These kind of things simply don't happen overnight, and especially during a lockout. Slowly but surely, Jason Garrett is restoring the organization to the cowboy way, as it was when he played for the team. It will take some time, but we have already seen it sped along. So make no mistake, Jason Garrett is still in the process of making the necessary changes in culture to this organization. However, it will take some time, as it must be restored into the entire organization, from the 8th player on the practice squad all of the way up to the owner.