If you don't pay close attention, you may have an impression that there are a lot of people who are very upset about the decision by the Dallas Cowboys to let the hated and detested Philadelphia Eagles outbid them for DeMarco Murray. After all, the default position is that the Cowboys and Jerry Jones (seen by some as basically the same thing) can do no right. For so many years we have seen Dallas make personnel moves that left us shaking our heads. So this was going to be portrayed as a foolish mistake by the Cowboys, of course.
Well, maybe not. Look at the results of this little insta-poll on Twitter.
Should the Cowboys have overpaid to prevent DeMarco Murray from bolting to Eagles? Favorite for Yes; retweet for No pic.twitter.com/NvN2fR2lzb— SportsDayDFW (@SportsDayDFW) March 12, 2015
Note the results as represented by the retweet/favorite margin. At the time I wrote this, it was running almost exactly 6 to 1 in favor of the path the Cowboys took in the Murray negotiations. For those of us who have weathered the tirades of the past (and those of you who were doing the ranting know who you are), this is rather stunning. Admittedly, this is something far less than a scientific survey, but it is indicative of what has happened in the past few years. Since Jason Garrett became head coach, he has spearheaded a new way of doing things at Valley Ranch. He has had a strong ally in Stephen Jones, and between the two of them they have completely transformed the franchise. The Process that Garrett refers to frequently was primarily a description of the way the coaching staff was running the team on the field, but it can also be applied to the approach the front office has taken to the roster.
If you have been a long time reader here at BTB, you know that we saw this happening almost from the beginning. As far back as 2012, I was making the argument (in a two part series, part one here and part two here) that this transition to the new regime was already done, but so many could or would not see it. For the past several seasons it was apparent that Stephen Jones was doing the real work and Jerry was becoming more and more of a spokesman and overseer for things.
But finally the reality of things is starting to dawn on more and more people. In the past few days, there has been a rash of articles from the "major" media who all have breathlessly announced the stunning news that Stephen is the one making the real decisions. It started with Clarence Hill Jr. at the Ft Worth Star Telegram.
Jerry Jones still carries the title of owner/general manager. He remains the face of the franchise. But it's his son, Stephen, the vice president of player personnel, who is making the final decisions.
This changing of the guard became increasingly evident last season when it was Stephen who attended every practice instead of the elder Jones, which was a change.
Jean-Jacques Taylor, who has occasionally been mildly critical of the decisions made by the Cowboys in the past, jumped in with his post for ESPN.
The illusion that Jerry Jones is running these Dallas Cowboys is over. Oh, Jerry remains the face of the franchise, but it's Stephen Jones who's in charge these days.
"Which chair is Jerry Jones tied to, and how dark is the closet where he's being kept?"
It's a joke, of course. It's undeniable that Jones will always be the rock-star front man for the Cowboys. But this streak of fiscal responsibility has some fingerprints on it, and those who know the Cowboys say those identifying marks belong largely to Jones' son Stephen. Outside of Dallas and NFL circles, not a lot is known about the man, other than he's the offspring of arguably the league's wildest owner, and carries a business card that lists a one-man corporation: "Stephen Jones: Dallas Cowboys Chief Operating Officer/Executive Vice President/Director of Player Personnel."
That probably sums up why so many (at least those outside of Dallas) took so long to figure this out. They did not watch and listen to the major figures of the Cowboys with the unrelenting focus that some of us did. Some reporters have been clued in to this all along, mostly because they listened to what was actually being said and who was saying it, then comparing it to what was actually happening. Now the rest of the media is finally seeing things clearly.
Meanwhile, the other side of the Murray transaction is being questioned about what exactly it is doing, particularly in that particular acquisition.
It's that $21M to Murray, however -- on top of Bradford being owed $13M from a dinosaur rookie contract from an expired collective bargaining agreement -- that I'm most stuck on. Especially for a player who has missed as much time as he has, who the Cowboys of all teams felt they could draw a hard financial line with, and who carries the type of 400-plus workload last season that almost always foretells doom the following campaign. This signing, on top of all the other machinations and attempted machinations, gives me cause for concern.
It is fun to see so many people agreeing with us here at BTB. Not that we are gloating or bragging or anything.
Well, maybe a little.