On Wednesday, Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones sat down with KRLD-FM for a radio interview in which he said it was going to become uncomfortable at Valley Ranch and that "change is necessary".
In the interview, Jones was his usual vague, random and contradictory self, which has left much room for speculation for writers, bloggers and mainstream media folks following the Cowboys. Dan Graziano of ESPN perfectly expressed my own sentiment about the interview when he wrote yesterday:
You know what I think, which is that Jones plays to the fans when he does those radio shows and that reading too much into what he says on them is a mistake. But since it's "out there," as they say, let's play along.
So like Dan, I’m also playing along. And I’ll start by picking quotes randomly from Jerry’s James Joyce-style stream of consciousness interview replies. In the interview, Jones emphasized that change is necessary in Dallas:
"I can tell you: Change is necessary at 8-8. Change is necessary when we go into the last two seasons, get to the last two games – which has its pluses - and if we play well in those last two games could be sitting in the playoffs with an opportunity to go to the Super Bowl."
"Now change is in order when you spend two seasons in a row down to your last two games and lose them. So we’re going to have changes."
And while Jones also appeared to be offering his support for Garrett and commitment to quarterback Tony Romo throughout the interview, he also made a few comments here and there that made me listen up:
"Jason has been in charge of our offense for the last six years, and pretty much autonomously. We’ve got to look at that and say, ‘Hey, how do we best use these assets that we’ve got today?’"
"Jason and Tony Romo have been working together for six years now. SIX football seasons."
"The issue is we have a quarterback I have all the confidence in the world in. Our team needs to use his experience and what he does the best and do the things that maximize him offensively."
So let’s step back here a little bit and try to divine some meaning from all of this. Jones appears to be expressing his frustration over the Cowboys ‘coming up short when it really counts’, after all, they were one-and-done in the playoffs in 2007, lost in the divisional round in 2009 and lost three season-ending win-and-you’re-in games in 2008, 2011 and 2012. Of course, 11 of 12 playoff teams every year will ‘come up short when it really counts’, but that’s another discussion.
So if Jones sees a pattern that has repeated itself again and again for the last six years, what could be the constants that supposedly drive this pattern? I’d propose that there are four constants:
- The biggest constant is Jerry Jones as owner and GM. But since he’s not going anywhere, he’ll have to be excluded from this analysis.
- The second constant is Tony Romo, who has been the QB for all those six years. In those six years he’s doubled as everybody’s favorite whipping boy for anything that goes wrong with the Cowboys.
- The third constant is Jason Garrett, who has been the OC for all those years. But for the last two and a half years, he’s also been the head coach, and he may have become too busy as the HC to properly mentor Romo.
- The final constant is QB coach Wade Wilson, who’s been with the team and worked with Romo since 2007. "SIX football seasons", Jones said in the interview, and you could hear that he was a little agitated.
This is all purely speculative of course, but if Jones promised change and endorsed Garrett and Romo, doesn't that leave QB coach Wilson as the weak link?
When pundits talk about how the Cowboys ‘come up short when it really counts’, more often than not they're talking about Tony Romo, and Jones may have been doing the same. The question then becomes, what do you have to do to "use [Romo's] experience and what he does the best and do the things that maximize him offensively?".
QB coach is often a fairly junior position among the coaching staff, but there's no reason you couldn't upgrade it with a guy with HC/OC-experience: The Ravens brought in Jim Caldwell as their QB coach this season after Caldwell 'Sucked For Luck' in Indy for two years as the head coach. The Patriots brought in Josh McDaniels as the QB coach and Offensive Coordinator last season.
Garrett has always maintained that one of the reasons he's kept OC duties was because of the good relationship he has with Romo. But does he still have the time as HC to invest the time required into that relationship?
If Jones wants change, one area to look at upgrading could be the QB coach, and the price for getting a guy with HC/OC-experience for that spot could be the OC title or playcalling duties. And that may be something that Jones feels is negotiable.