Jerry Jones has a history and reputation for tolerating a lot out of players as long as they help the franchise. He’s willing to overlook player transgressions to an extent, and to absorb distractions into the franchise’s culture. As recently as a few years ago he was willing to roll the dice on players like Rolando McClain and Greg Hardy, with differing degrees of success. As observers of the Cowboys, we’ve come to accept that is how Jerry plays the game. His son Stephen might be ready to edge the Cowboys away from that philosophy.
The younger Jones has recently made comments about Dez Bryant. Now, before we go any further, Bryant is not in the category of guys like McClain and Hardy. His main transgressions, besides dropping too many passes, are his outbursts of emotion on the sideline. A few days ago, we noted Stephen Jones’ words on that.
“The other thing that we all see and it is certainly visible to anyone who watches our games, watches our sideline, is Dez is certainly a fiery guy who plays with a lot of emotion both on and off the field. Sometimes that can be a distraction. It can be a distraction for Dez, it can be a distraction for other teammates. And we just have to really get our hands around when you put all the full body of work together where that’s headed.”
As we noted then, this was the first time we really heard the Cowboys front office imply criticism about Bryant’s passion on the sidelines. Generally it had been written off by the exec. team as a “good thing” because Dez was just trying to fire up his teammates or get himself hyped. Jones’ comments take a new tone on that subject.
“Well, Dez is an emotional guy. He plays with emotion. That’s part of his game,” Jones said, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We work with him constantly on trying to really channel his energy in positive ways. I just think when he has those type of emotional roller coasters, I think at the end of the day he needs to understand that it does affect more than just Dez. He loves his teammates. He obviously has made so many great plays for us over the years, but when you start to look at the things that we need to be better at that’s one of them.
“I think he needs to understand that it’s not something that’s just affecting him. It does affect his teammates.”
While the younger Jones has made comments implying that a change might be coming to Bryant’s contract status, Jerry has indicated Dez won’t be released. We’ll see where this all ends up.
But Jones the Younger also opined on the distraction that was Ezekiel Elliott in 2017.
“I know Zeke wants to be great — I’m convinced of that, that he wants to be great,” Stephen Jones said this week from Senior Bowl practices. “He’s also got to understand that, to be great, you can’t have these things that we call distractions and things of that nature. Things that take away, not only from him, but from our team.”
Zeke had a string of incidents while he was under investigation that didn’t help his cause. One more slip up now and he could be facing a very lengthy suspension from the NFL. Recently, though, Zeke has stayed out of the news. Has he learned a lesson along the way?
...Elliott has maintained a relatively low profile and hasn’t stirred much controversy off the field. So has he finally figured out how to stay on the straight and narrow?
“I can only say you hope so. Zeke needs to answer that question,” Stephen Jones said. “Obviously, right up through the start of last season, there were things that were popping up. We haven’t seen that as of late and hopefully that’s a good indicator that he understands.”
I, for one, applaud the direction that Stephen Jones’ comments are taking the team. You can debate Jerry Jones’ tenure as Cowboys owner and general manager, but one thing he tolerated a lot of was players who caused distractions. Jerry has been accused of being to close to his players, of sometimes letting emotion and loyalty get in the way of cold, hard business decisions. All NFL teams employ players who have issues and have caused distractions, but the Cowboys always seemed to dismiss the criticisms, especially if the players were helping the team. This is Jerry’s way.
Stephen Jones appears to want some accountability from these players and isn’t afraid to state it publicly. If he wants to show a little tougher side on this subject than Jerry, that would be good for the franchise. As long as they follow through and get some results. Words are one thing, actions are another.