More than anyone else, Jerry Jones has been the man responsible for the changes that are taking place in the Cowboys organization.
OK, that may not be a statement you might expect from the scribe who penned a series entitled The Way of the Rooster, but it is a fact that should not be denied. The thought originally developed a few days ago during a discussion with Football Mensa in the Twitterverse.
@sexililkitti as much as I slam Jerry he will be the one responsible for this team going 12-4. He made the necessary changes— Football_Mensa (@Football_Mensa) June 22, 2013
Although I disagree with some of Mensa's conclusions about why Jones is the one responsible; my eyes were opened by the statement. Jerry Jones is not getting the credit for what he has done. Lets take a look at the real reasons he should receive the credit.
Grooming the Heir
Back in 2007, Jerry took a chance by bringing back a former Cowboys backup quarterback named Jason Garrett to become the team's offensive coordinator. At that time, Garrett was only two seasons removed from his own playing career, and he had spent those seasons as the quarterbacks coach for the Miami Dolphins. It was a risky move to trust the entire offense to a coach with such a limited background to work from. In fact, had Jones not been exposed to Garrett and how he he had focused himself on being a student of the game while still a player, it is likely that he would not have been a serious consideration for a coordinator's job until he had more experience under his belt. It was; however, a move that yielded quick returns. The first season under Garrett, the Cowboys had the second ranked offense in the league. In 2008 Garrett was offered head coaching positions with both the Baltimore Ravens and the Atlanta Falcons due to his success. In an effort to keep the "crown prince" in Dallas as the eventual head coach, Jerry Jones made Garrett the highest paid assistant coach in the league. Jones had plans for his young coaches future.
Handing Garrett the Reigns
After leading the team that started 1-7 under Wade Phillips to a 5-3 finish, Jason Garrett was named the eighth head coach in Cowboys history. At that time, Jones told the world that "there would not be anyone on the team that Jason did not want". A notorious meddler, most of the football world considered that to be simply Jerry talking, but subsequent events have served to confirm this. Garrett made changes to the whole on the field program, including bringing in coaches that matched his style (Rob Ryan being a notable exception) and seeking out players that he termed The Right Kind of Guy". Established veterans were cut and replaced with Jason's RKG's, even when the short term impact was not positive. Most things were done with an eye to the future of the franchise. According to the coach, there was a process that they were going through. The way that things were done in Dallas had slowly started to change. The Garrett era had begun.
Things did not go smoothly at the beginning. Garrett's cuts, especially on the offensive line, had been too deep. At times there was a plethora of miscommunication and coaching blunders along the way. Despite calls from the media and fans for Jerry Jones to make changes, he remained supportive of the coach. During each off season adjustments were made as the team applied the lessons learned. Garrett was growing into the job. Through it all Jerry stood beside his coach, even when Jerry told the world that "things were going to be uncomfortable" he added the words "under Jason". Naturally the last two words were ignored by many. It was taken as a sign that Garrett's seat was getting warm. Instead it was actually a statement that Jason was making sure that other seats were getting rather toasty (especially the one held by the previously mentioned Ryan). As with everything else associated with the Garrett era, his development as a coach is a process, and the Jones family is clearly supportive of the plan he has in place.
Clearly Jerry Jones is not the same owner that he was back when the coaching carousel first started spinning in Dallas. As he has admitted, Jerry has learned some lessons along the way. He admits that he pulled the trigger too quickly when firing Chan Gailey. He has also witnessed the results of his hands on meddling over the years. Experience has taught him that getting the team in cap hell to overpay declining stars and to bring in expensive free agents has not brought the success he intended. The time had long since come for a departure from the way the Cowboys were being ran. To his credit, Jones has evolved by bringing in a young talented guy with a master plan, given him the freedom to implement that plan, and allowed him to learn from his mistakes rather than punishing him for them. Therein lies the reason that credit for the change is due. In this case, change has been a good thing.
Now its your turn; who do you think deserves the credit?