Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones may have some decisions to make if his team keeps losing.
Nevertheless, Cowboys fans have undoubtedly grown anxious since the team’s last Super Bowl appearance following the 1995 NFL season. Three names have frequently surfaced as potential scapegoats for Dallas’ drought: owner Jerry Jones, head coach Jason Garrett and starting quarterback Tony Romo.
In this 31-minute video interview with NBC’s Bob Costas, Jones mentions that he:
was there to dismiss […] Certainly if I’d had the discretion—I’ve done it with coaches, and certainly I would have changed general managers. If you look around the NFL, you have almost as high a percentage of general manager changes as you do coaching changes.
He’s basically saying that he would have fired himself—if he was actually a different person as a general manager than he was as a team owner—but he has not done so.
Cowboys fans can forget about that one happening.
If one of the aforementioned options is going to go, it will be either Romo or Garrett. As an owner, Jones is "proud of our personnel," indicating that the table has been set for success based on the players on his team. Logically, the coaching would be the weak link in that scenario, but Jones unsurprisingly endorses his head coach as well:
This is a long-term thing with me. Now, we know this is a short-term game—what’s happening the next possession or what’s happening in the next quarter. On the other hand [...] I like the way the players respond for Jason. He gets a lot of effort out of these players. They have a lot of respect for him. He does a great job...directly on the offensive side of the ball. I like what I’m seeing. I don’t like that we’re [3-5], but I like the direction.
Dallas’ roster does have Super Bowl-quality talent. Romo is a legitimate playmaker at the quarterback position. DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones—when healthy—are a dangerous running-back tandem. The quarterbacks’ targets (Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, the emerging Kevin Ogletree and ever-present tight end Jason Witten) are top-notch talents.
The defense doesn’t want for talent either. The unit includes guys like pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware, inside linebacker Sean Lee and cover cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr.
Garrett is 46 years old. He’s got plenty of time to develop as a head coach if that’s the plan that Jones has for him within the Cowboys organization.
Romo, however, does not.
He’s been in the league 10 years already and is 32 years old. With a roster that’s built to win now—as the Cowboys' seems to be—the coaching situation needs to be addressed to take advantage of the available talent.
If Jones isn’t going to relieve Garrett of his duties, then he should look into acquiring and developing the replacement for Romo. Still, Jones says:
In general, I like the way he drives the bus when he needs to drive the bus...Tony Romo is our quarterback, and the way we’re going to go is the way Romo goes.
Romo shouldn’t be driving that bus if Garrett is going to be the guy planning the routes long-term. Nevertheless, Dallas has not even gone after a young quarterback as a developmental project to replace Romo. His backup is Kyle Orton, a veteran who is nearing 30 years of age.
Who must go for the Dallas Cowboys?
Jon Kitna assumed backup QB duties for the Cowboys in 2011. He’s 40.
Again, keeping a veteran backup QB as the only other signal-caller on its roster is wise for a team poised to win now. If the expectation is that Garrett needs more time to develop into a Super Bowl-caliber coach, the Cowboys need to find someone more presently equipped to lead a roster deep into the postseason.
Finally, Jones notes, "There’s nothing that I wouldn’t give to compete and to compete at a level to win a Super Bowl."
Based on the recent performance of the Cowboys, what he would have to give for that to happen appears to be either his starting quarterback or his head coach—if not both.
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