Maybe it is his ego; maybe it is because he honestly feels that he is the best man for the job, but for what ever the reason Jerry Jones continued to serve as the general manager of the Dallas Cowboys despite a track record that even Jones admits would have caused him to fire any other employee. Right or wrong, that is Jones prerogative. Still it took the NFL world by storm last season when Jerry, the owner, told the media that Jerry, the GM, was doing the best work of his tenure in the National Football League.
"The facts are I really do think, the way things have rolled out, I'm getting to do some of the best work that I've done, relatively speaking in my career, over these last several years." - Jerry Jones
To many around the league it was just another sign that Jones was the second coming of Al Davis. His over-inflated ego was leading him to systematically preside over the dismantlement of one of the league's legendary franchises. Like Davis, many suspected that Jones would not cease until he received the inevitable social call from the Grim Reaper himself.
But what if Jones was correct in his assessment of his contributions to the Cowboys?
6 Cowboys headed to ProBowl that include 4 out of the 5 last 1st round picks. That is outstanding drafting. GM & FO deserve a lot of credit— Birddog26 (@Birddog26) December 24, 2014
That Tweet from our friend Birddog26 got me to thinking. Maybe Jerry Jones IS doing the best work of his career. Much has been said of late about the job Jason Garrett is doing in getting the most out of the 2014 Cowboys, but not much is being said about the man who tapped him to coach the team.
Many years ago, while Jason Garrett was still a back-up quarterback on the Dallas Cowboys roster, his work ethic, team-first attitude, and drive to reach his personal best regardless of if he was going to play or not made an impression on Jones. Those traits identified Garrett as someone that Jones would keep an eye on and perhaps to guide and groom the young man for a future in the game that lasted beyond his playing days. Once Garrett retired and had cut his teeth as a position coach, Jones brought him back into the fold to guide the Cowboys offense. It was a barely concealed secret that Jason was a head coach in waiting.
Garrett began his tenure with a long-term plan that would essentially reverse many of the things his boss had done in the past. To his credit, Jones bought in to the RKG philosophy and long-term vision that Garrett brought to town. He also stood by his head coach as season after season of .500 performances on the field. Jones was as committed to the whole process as any of the men who play for the team. Jerry, along with his son Stephen, could see Garrett's progress where others could not. Through the struggles and growing pains he was able to maintain uncharacteristic patience. In fact, Jones went so far as to turn over more and more responsibility to his coach as time went on.
Jones has also improved in the area of player acquisition. As BD mentioned, four of the team's last five first-round draft picks will represent the Cowboys at the Pro Bowl. Since 2010, when the team took a calculated risk on a troubled wide receiver named Dez Bryant, Dallas has done an outstanding job of filling a position of need with a man who was the top-graded player at his position. In a change from what we have come to expect from the Cowboys, the picks have not always been the "sexy" choices. Three of those five draft picks have been invested in offensive linemen starting with Tyron Smith. The only pick that Dallas may have missed on is the 2012 selection of Mo Claiborne.
It is not only on draft day where the GM has been finding gems. It was Jones who was able to bring Rolando McClain out of retirement. That move might have been the single best thing that happened to the Cowboys defense this season. With the loss of Sean Lee, the McClain move may have been the moment that saved the season for Dallas. Gone are the days of the 'Boys chasing over-the-hill names in free agency. With the exception of the move that brought in Brian Waters last season and the low-risk contract offered to Henry Melton, the Cowboys now use free agency to bring in the the blue collar guys who who get down and dirty to get the job done. Come to think of it, that even fits the two "name" guys they brought in as well.
The Dallas front office is now handling contracts in a more responsible manner. The salary cap hell of the recent past is becoming less of a concern. Gone are the ill-advised contracts that were given to guys like Jay Ratliff. The Cowboys have even bit the bullet and parted ways with future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware when the return on the team's investment did not justify the expense.The Cowboys are moving toward both sustainability and fiscal responsibility that will allow them to work toward a long term period of success rather than being a flash in the pan.
We can only look at things from the outside, but from my point of view it appears that this "new" version of Jerry Jones has matured into his job in exactly the same way that Dez Bryant has grown it to his. It has not been easy, from the fans point of view. I'm sure there have been times that Jerry Jones has been tempted to revert to his old ways. Instead, he stayed the course and followed the master plan. There was a process in place and Jones was committed to following it to its end. That commitment is why the Dallas Cowboys are in the situation they are now in. It seems that Jones may be correct. The Cowboys general manager just might be doing the best work of his career.