"Running scared is my best day... Being uneasy, being shaky, I think I probably make my best grades there. I've made a lot of F's really getting full of it..."
-- Jerry Jones at today's presser, addressing confidence
That sequence, near the end of today's press conference announcing Wade Phillips' two year extension, suggested to me the organization is on the proper path. Jerry is right. Absolutely, unequivocally right. Look at his 21 years running this organization. Nobody has been better when he's down. Although he was 0-0 as a ledger, he was 21 points down five minutes into his ownership tenure, after firing Tom Landry. Jerry had a suffocating debt to service, little talent to work with, and one of the worst PR debuts you can imagine.
He hired the right people and won. When Jerry 1.0 proved it didn't work, he hired Bill Parcells and gave him the latitude to turn the Carrier Cowboys back towards winning waters.
On the other hand, Jerry's biggest fumbles have come when he's, as he puts it "getting full of it." The 501 coaches could run this team remark in 1994, when he hired Barry Switzer. The misplaced loyalty towards his Triplets, which prompted the Joey Galloway deal.
Few people are better when they're down and nobody has been worse when he's on top than Jerry Jones. That Jones admitted this today suggests an organization with some humility, and some aggression. Wade Phillips repeated his dad Bum's, "we're gonna kick that SOB in," line, which the older Texas partisans will recall. He still has some unfinished family business, if that line comes as readily as it did.
Other key moments from the presser:
-- the turnover continues. I wrote yesterday that the organization needed to remain cold-blooded in its approach to talent acquisition. Jerry cited the financial limitations of being a top-8 finisher, but reiterated on more than one occasion that the team would aggressively pursue talent in every available avenue.
The team has just begun to self-scout, a process it began back in August, when the scouting department made a review of every position on the team, before those scouts hit the campuses. Now, the assistants will break down their units, the first step towards identifying areas of need and possible free agent and draftee fits.
-- Roy Williams is going nowhere. Jerry and Wade noted Roy's work ethic as reason to retain Williams. Phillips faulted himself for not finding the proper role for Williams on the team. This may be Wade being Wade. He's famously -- or notoriously, depending on your POV -- loyal to his players and this may be the latest iteration of Wade protecting one of his guys in the media. It also says the team feels Roy is a problem child (and I don't say this in a pejorative way) who has not met the teaching approach which can unlock his talent. Whatever the case, the Cowboys are ready to search for that new approach.
Phillips did make clear that the team's willingness to work more with Williams did not guarantee him a starting job. (See point number one above.) Paging Kevin Ogletree. Your offseason awaits you.
-- Point two strongly suggests that WR won't be on the first round draft menu.
-- This makes the case for a WR even weaker: Jerry wants to re-sign Miles Austin to a long-term deal. The circumstantial evidence has been too strong to say no. Consider:
1. Jones jumped the gun and gave Terrell Owens a contract extension after the 2007 season, even though Owens still had one year left on his deal. Jerry had to eat a lot of bonus money one year later when he cut T.O. loose.
2. Jones gave Roy Williams a huge extension before he ever played a down in a Cowboys uniform.
3. The team made the Jets aware that they would match any offer for Austin last spring, when he was still little more than a "potential" guy. New York pocketed an offer sheet that was reportedly ready for Austin's signature.
Jerry spent money heavily in situations 1-3. Situation 4, signing Austin long-term today, looks rock solid by comparison, even though Austin has just 13 games as a starter to his credit.