Leadership on the Fifth

No, not a fifth of Beam or JD. But come to think of it . . .

Wait. Stop. That's not the point today. Although it may have some tangential bearing on this, my title is meant to refer to this post being a sequel to yesterday's.

See, I was reading the comments on my Fourth post, getting a little ego boo, thinking I had done a really good job covering the issue, and then I hit 5blings' comment:

Is HC the very top?

I hate it when the gaping hole in my argument gets pointed out in such a pithy manner.

That was the second most brilliant thing 5blings did this week. Make sure you read Putting the Worst Behind Them, if you haven't already. It is my nominee for FPOTW so far.

So, anyway, realizing that my comparison in the last post had stopped short, I realized I needed to carry it further.

Fortunately, it fits right in.

We all know that the Head Coach position on the Dallas Cowboys is not the top leadership. No, the top of the heap is named Jerry Jones. Love him, hate him, buy him a drink and hope he doesn't notice you are recording him, he is the face of the Dallas Cowboys Organization. Not the team, the Organization. The billion dollar, Palace in Dallas, marketing juggernaut, top sports franchise in the United States Organization. Jerry is the 800 pound gorilla of owners. And folks, I know how much we all love to blame him for little mistakes like Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Wade Phillips, Quincy Carter, Roy Williams (current), and all the rest, but remember: Three Super Bowl Champions. A team that, win or lose, is always talked about. By everyone in the NFL and the media.

Besides which, he owns the team. He writes the checks. He hires the head coach.

Oh, yeah. He hires the head coach. And fires them.

One of the great unresolved debates is how much control over the day to day operation Jerry has versus how much Jason Garrett has. This will be a key element for this season. It could basically go one of two ways.

Using my military analogy from my previous post, one of the options is that Jerry sees himself as the general in charge. He is Eisenhower to Garret's Bradley and Ryan's Patton, the theater commander deploying his forces. I think this was certainly the vision he had of himself in the past. And I think it pretty much screwed the team.

It is totally the wrong way to look at it. Eisenhower was the man who had the final say. (I apologize if the history is unfamiliar to some of you, but I also don't want to bog this down with too much explanation.) When the D-Day invasion came, Ike was the man who made the call to risk the weather and go on June 6th. He was the deciding voice. Throughout the war in Europe, he made the big calls. He knew he would be held responsible, but he knew he had the authority to do what he felt was right.

That, with all due respect, is not Jerry's job. That is the Head Coach's position.

Jerry needs to look at the situation differently. His job is much more similar to someone else. A fellow named Franklin Roosevelt. Yeah, Jerry the president needs to think of himself as the president.

Since I am on such a tear with the World War II parallels, let me make a statement about FDR. The most important thing that the President did with a global war raging around him was to select some good military commanders and GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY! During the war, Roosevelt made very few military decisions. He determined the mission (victory), set the standard ("unconditional surrender"), but he had almost no direct involvement in how to do the job. He understood what he didn't understand. He knew he was not a trained military leader. He had no idea how to command an army in the field. But he put his total effort into making sure that army had the tools and the personnel it needed. Sort of like being the owner of team playing a game at a level you never played or coached at.

And it worked so much better the way FDR did it than what he was up against. The fellow in Germany took on all the decision making for himself, and pretty much screwed up his army. I would make some comparisons, but that is too easy to take all wrong. Just think of it from a viewpoint of management style. FDR won the war by not running it himself.

This is what I wish I could sit down and tell Jerry. He needs to be Roosevelt to Garrett's Eisenhower. In a perfect Cowboy world, Jerry works the salary cap, builds the facilities, and Jason takes those tools and makes a winner out of the team. I hope he already has figured this out. As has been noted around here, it looks like he may get it. But we can't really know, not yet. If at some point Jerry starts talking about playing someone because of their contract, we should worry. That is not the kind of decision he should making. The team's success is not determined by how much paycheck is on the field. It is how much performance is on the field. If an UDFA can outperform someone with a seven figure contract, put the seven figures on the bench and resolve to not overpay any more.

It is a bit ironic. We are just fans out here, but this is one thing I think we see much more clearly than the owner does. Jerry is, after all, too close to the situation. He sees it in the mirror when he shaves. And it is hard to see your mistakes when you have been so successful at other things.

But we can hope.

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