It's long been said (by people outside of Dallas anyway) that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' insistance on acting as his team's general manager is the Cowboys' greatest roadblock to the team returning to greatness.
When Jones bought the team and subsequently fired the only coach the franchise had ever known up to that point in Tom Landry, he hired a brash college coach by the name of Jimmy Johnson who acted as the Gary Kurtz to Jones' George Lucas.
For the non-Star Wars geeks out there, Kurtz produced the first two Star Wars films Lucas made—you know, the good ones. After the Empire Strikes Back became a monster hit upon its release in 1980, Lucas had basically become so powerful he could do whatever he wanted, which included parting ways with Kurtz.
Kurtz, you see, was pretty much the one person who would say "no" to Lucas, on everything from story-lines to budget issues. Lucas and Kurtz had what many have described as a strained relationship, but they produced great work together, work that suffered noticeably after they parted ways.
Obviously, it's not a perfect analogy, but Johnson was similar to Kurtz in that he acted as a perfect counter-balance to Jones when it came to building a football team, from Johnson's creation of the value trade chart to his keen eye for talent in the draft.
Jones did indeed win a Super Bowl after Johnson's departure with head coach Barry Switzer, but that was with a nucleus put together by Johnson. Since then, Jones has spent a good deal of time learning on the job and playing what could be construed as a very expensive version of fantasy football.
From his ill-advised trades for both Joey Galloway and Roy Williams, as well as bringing in Terrell Owens, to paying far too much attention to the skill positions in general while neglecting to build a real foundation, Jones has, as I said before, been learning on the job.
With that said, it would certainly appear that Jones has started to get the hang of it. He has built a deep and talented team that suffered through the growing pains of a first-time head coach in Jason Garrett last season.
The moves Jones made this offseason bolstered his team and, seemingly, his confidence enough to take a direct shot at the reigning Super Bowl Champion New York Giants this past Monday.
Via ESPNDallas, Jones told a reported 5,000 fans at the opening of Cowboys' camp in California that they should come to Cowboys Stadium and ''watch us beat the Giants' asses.''
Clearly, the game down in Dallas last year is on Jones' mind, as is the disappointment at watching that team barely miss the playoffs. Jones admitted to Mike Florio yesterday that ”It’s the second most disappointing year I’ve had was last year. To have [Tony] Romo to have the year that he had. you’re supposed to be knocking on the door when you have a quarterback playing like that.”
Jones is absolutely correct.
Yes, Romo and the Cowboys' offense gave some games away last year with turnovers, and Jason Garrett made some brutal late-game decisions, but Jones is right that this team has the talent to not only beat the Giants, but a lot of other teams as well.
While many NFL fans and media have relegated the Cowboys to also-ran status before the season even starts, I for one think that Jones is right to be confident that this team is ready to take a big step forward and finally make some noise with a deep postseason run.