FanPost

Dispelling the myth: Grading Jerry the GM - Part 3

Most NFL fans will agree that the regular season is merely the means to an end, with the successful end being a Super Bowl title. Therefore, the success of a franchise and by extension their respective General Manager is based upon the championships the organization wins. By extension, the degree of post season success is strongly considered in evaluating football teams and the executives making the decisions.

No other single General Manager that has worked in the league at any time after 1989 has matched the three Super Bowl Lombardi trophies that Jerry Jones displays proudly at Valley Ranch. As the General Manager and Owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry boasts the seventh best post season winning percentage among General Managers that have won at least one Super Bowl since 1989. Of more significance, only three other current General Managers that have won at least one Super Bowl have a better post season winning percentage than Mr. Jones.

But Jerry has had limited post season success since winning his last Super Bowl in 1995. Since the beginning of the 1996 season, Jones' teams have accumulated a 2-7 record in the post season, never advancing past the divisional round of the playoffs. To make matters worse, there are 23 NFL teams that have advanced beyond the divisional round of the post season. In addition, 18 different NFL franchises have made it to the Super Bowl since 1996 (* denotes Super Bowl victor):

Team

Playoff record 1996 - 2011

Advanced to

New England Patriots

19-9

Super Bowl*

Pittsburgh Steelers

14-8

Super Bowl*

Green Bay Packers

12-9

Super Bowl*

Indianapolis Colts

9-11

Super Bowl*

Baltimore Ravens

10-7

Super Bowl*

New York Giants

10-6

Super Bowl*

Denver Broncos

9-6

Super Bowl*

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5-6

Super Bowl*

Saint Louis Rams

6-4

Super Bowl*

New Orleans Saints

6-4

Super Bowl*

Saint Louis Rams

6-4

Super Bowl*

Philadelphia Eagles

10-10

Super Bowl

Seattle Seahawks

5-7

Super Bowl

Tennessee Titans

5-6

Super Bowl

Carolina Panthers

6-4

Super Bowl

Atlanta Falcons

4-6

Super Bowl

Arizona Cardinals

5-3

Super Bowl

Oakland Raiders

4-3

Super Bowl

Chicago Bears

3-4

Super Bowl

New York Jets

7-7

Championship game

Minnesota Vikings

6-8

Championship game

San Francisco 49ers

5-6

Championship game

Jacksonville Jaguars

5-6

Championship game

San Diego Chargers

3-5

Championship game

Of the eight teams that have not advanced further than the divisional round of the playoffs, only six teams have fewer playoff victories since 1996 than the Dallas Cowboys. Five teams that have been in existence since 1989 have fewer playoff games over the same time frame (^ denotes that the Browns were not in existence from 1996 through 1998):

Team

Playoffs (W-L)

Cleveland Browns^

0-1

Buffalo Bills

0-3

Detroit Lions

0-3

Cincinnati Bengals

0-3

Kansas City Chiefs

0-4

Houston Texans

1-1

Washington Redskins

2-3

Miami Dolphins

3-6

This is the crux of the criticism leveled towards Jerry Jones. Since 1996, the Dallas Cowboys have been included in the worst third of the league.

Miami and Buffalo had Dan Marino and Jim Kelly towards the tail end of their careers during the selected time frame. Houston and Detroit now sport franchise-type quarterbacks in Matt Shaub and Matthew Stafford and their respective teams have subsequently improved.

Once again, the presence of a franchise quarterback makes a significant difference in the success rate of the organization. Of course, the franchise quarterback is the most difficult player to find. Armed with that knowledge, an analysis of the Cowboys since 1996 offers many answers to why the team has suffered for such a long time.

From the 1996 season through most of the 2000 regular season, the Dallas Cowboys had Troy Aikman starting under center. The future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback had already proven that he could win the Super Bowl when surrounded with the necessary talent.

Knowing that Troy Aikman was nearing the end of his career and that finding another elite quarterback was no easy task, Jerry Jones spent the off seasons from 1996 through 2000 trying to find wide receivers, tight ends, and defensive play makers in an attempt to get Troy back to the Super Bowl. Jerry admitted several times during those lean years that he felt the Cowboys had a chance to win another championship as long as Aikman was the quarterback in the playoffs.

Considering the criticism leveled against another owner of a professional franchise in Dallas for permitting a championship team to scatter in an attempt to build for the future, Jerry Jones' strategy to pursue another Super Bowl title with a franchise quarterback seemed the right choice. After all, as previously noted, a franchise quarterback is an important piece to the championship puzzle.

The New England Patriots have also used the same model. The Patriots held on to Ted Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, and other veteran players as long as possible to afford Tom Brady and the Patriots another chance at winning a Super Bowl. The final edition of that team finished 18-1, and was slowly taken apart by injuries, retirements, and age affecting performance. Despite reaching another Super Bowl with Tom Brady, the Patriots have struggled collecting an ensemble suitable to win another championship.

Unfortunately, poor drafts coupled with the gamble Jones took on trading for Joey Galloway crippled the organization's capacity to build after Troy Aikman was injured towards the end of the 2000 NFL season against Washington. Jerry sacrificed the future in order to prolong Troy Aikman's window to win his fourth Super Bowl.

Upon realizing the sad state of the franchise after a late season collapse in Texas Stadium to the 49ers in 2002, Jerry Jones began to talk to Bill Parcells about helping him rebuild the Dallas Cowboys. With the pressure of building a new stadium weighing heavily upon Jerry, Jones hired Parcells in January of 2003.

Parcells was not the type of coach Jerry wanted to have run the Cowboys. Bill's overbearing ways created friction and robbed much of the enjoyment of owning the Dallas Cowboys from Jerry. Mr. Jones, however, made the move and the two worked together for four seasons.

From 2003 through 2006, Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells added enough talent to the roster to permit Wade Phillips to finish the 2007 regular season 13-3 and hold the number one seed in the NFC playoffs. Perhaps the greatest gift Bill Parcells left for his successor, however, was a young, promising quarterback that could develop into the franchise player the Cowboys would need in order to return to prominence.

Over the next three and a half seasons, a talented Cowboys squad managed 34 regular season wins and one post season victory. Jerry now has the opportunity to achieve something that no other General Manager has ever accomplished: winning four Super Bowls.

Comparing Jerry Jones with Bill Polian, a stark difference is noted in the playoff success each has experienced as a General Manager:

General Manager (seasons)

Playoff record

Playoff seasons

Non-playoff seasons

Consecutive non-playoff seasons

Consecutive seasons without a playoff win

Super Bowl appearances

Bill Polian (24)

20-16

17

7

2

7

6

Jerry Jones (23)

13-9

12

11

3

12

3

Of course Bill Polian had Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly throughout his tenure in Buffalo. Polian also spent all but one season as the General Manager in Indianapolis with future Hall of Fame player Peyton Manning as his quarterback.

It is likely that had Jerry Jones not owned the Cowboys, his tenure as General Manager would have ended sometime during the Dave Campo era. To Jerry's credit, however, he made a decision to hire a future Hall of Fame coach to help him rebuild the Dallas Cowboys. From 2003 through the present, only the hiring and retention of Wade Phillips can be highlighted as a reason to question Jerry's performance as a General Manager.

Everything is in place for the Dallas Cowboys this season: a premier Head Coach (although all do not YET share that opinion), and an elite quarterback (again, some do not evaluate him in the same way). Jerry Jones has assembled a talented roster around his franchise quarterback, and has this team primed for a long post season run.

Ironically, this edition of the Dallas Cowboys resembles the 1992 version, in that many believe that it is still a year away from seriously competing for a championship. The game has changed greatly since 1992, but talent still wins in the NFL, and the 2012 Dallas Cowboys have a great deal of talent dotting the roster.

Next: the final post addressing the primary reason the Dallas Cowboys General Manager is judged so incredibly harshly by the best fans in the NFL. Thank you for reading and providing great insights to date. Please continue.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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