In just a week, the Dallas Cowboys will begin reporting to Oxnard for training camp and the beginning of the 2013 season. I am not only hoping for a more successful season this year, but really expect it.
One of my dreams involving a winning season is that it should at least partially mute some of the criticism that seems to surround the Star. Although that seems a bit muted this season (at least partly because all the NFC East teams have issues, and the division race is very hard to predict), I still would like to see some of the key people involved with the team get a chance to prove that this is not the same Cowboys team it was a few years back.
That brings up the question: Who would be the biggest winner if the Cowboys were to shock the NFL and go all the way this year? I know this is a team game, and also involves everyone on the staff and in management, but clearly some people involved with the team will get some rather big monkeys off their back if Dallas were to bring home another Lombardi. While you can make a case for some core players, like DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten, and some of the coaches, like Bill Callahan and Monte Kiffin, I don't think anyone would argue that three names are pretty much the automatic choices. But which one would be number one?
Tony Romo. No matter how you look at statistics or the overall team dynamic, Romo is forever going to be defined by the games that went wrong. It started with the infamous fumbled field goal attempt in Seattle, and continues with the occasional multi-turnover game that so often comes at the worst time (like the last game of the season with a playoff spot on the line). There is a growing pool of opinion among some members of the media that Romo is not the problem, but for the rest of the writers and most of the general public, it would take some significant playoff success to alter that view of him.
But if he does lead this team to a trophy, then I think the world at large will finally begin to realize just how good he is, and how much he means to the Cowboys. And while I think Romo is secure enough in his own knowledge of what he is, I would love to finally see those who judge quarterbacks on the overall performance of their team finally have to use the word "elite" when describing him.
Jason Garrett. The red-haired coach of the Cowboys may already have claim to an NFL record as the most criticized head coach to never have a losing season. OK, two back to back 8-8 seasons are nothing to brag about, but they are also his first two full seasons after taking over a team in midseason that frankly had given up and was on the verge of collapse. To accomplish a major rebuilding (look at the roster today versus the roster that started 2010, and the coaching staff as well) without having a losing record would probably be held up as evidence of what a good job he was doing, if he was not doing it in Dallas, where the expectations are "if you don't win the Super Bowl, you suck".
It would at least finally give us a season where Garrett was not prominently featured in every discussion of coaches on the hot seat. And maybe some of the proponents of the Garrett-as-puppet theory would back off, since they would be forced to either concede that the head coach really was making a difference, or give credit for success to the third name on the list.
Jerry Jones. No owner in the NFL is as involved in the operation of his team. And no owner has placed himself in such a position of responsibility for the success or failure of his team.
I also think it means more to Jones than it does to any other owner. While I think Romo and Garrett have faith in themselves and know that the perception of fans and the media is not what defines them, I do think Jones is extremely concerned with his image, and he will never be happy until he proves to the NFL that he can succeed again as the GM without the influence of a coach named Jimmy Johnson. I think that is what draws him to a microphone like a zombie to a Mensa meeting. Something inside him still needs to prove himself to the world. I think he hears all the criticism, and feels that he has failed in countering it. I also think that Jason Garrett is clearly his head coach, more perhaps than any other he has hired, and he is just as eager to silence the hot seat talk as anyone.
It would be very gratifying to those of us who see Jones' strengths as well as his weaknesses to see him with a championship that he can truly claim to have been done his way. Yes, I know that Garrett is really the one setting the tone and culture for the team, but it is with Jones' full support, and I think it is what the GM wanted him to do. I know a lot of Jerry-haters will not be happy, but if the team could pull it off, I would be very glad for him. The only negative I could see: If you think he loves a microphone now . . .
Those are my candidates for who gets the most out of it if the Cowboys can become established winners. Who do you think is the one who really would be the biggest winner?
More Cowboys Coverage
- DeMarcus Ware Grades Out Well
- How Much Responsibility Should NFL Teams Take For Their Players' Misdeeds?
- Dallas Cowboys News And Notes: Tony Romo Haters Put On Notice
- Cowboys Free Agency 2013: Would You Take A Chance On These Guys?
- Cowboys O-Line Will Be One Of The Youngest In The NFL - Regardless Of Who Starts