The Dallas Cowboys are stuck in their second-longest playoff drought in half a century. But America's Team isn't short on talent, which has everybody trying to diagnose what's wrong with the franchise.
Count Emmitt Smith among them.
But the league's all-time leading rusher—who won three championships with Dallas two decades ago—doesn't blame owner Jerry Jones, as so many fans have begun to do.
"The man can go out and buy the groceries," Smith told Bleacher Report this week, "but he's not cooking the groceries. And at the end of the day, the coaching staff has to do a better job of managing the players and managing the game."
So, why is head coach Jason Garrett still employed despite four consecutive non-playoff seasons? Smith thinks Jones has given Garrett a longer-than-usual leash, at least partly as a result of Jones' history with the former Cowboys quarterback and offensive coordinator.
"I think what you see is the compassion of Jerry Jones," Smith said. "Compassion for a former [Cowboys] player and a young coach. And Jerry has given him every opportunity to be successful as a head coach and as an offensive coordinator."
On Thursday, we checked in with Smith, who continues to publicly battle gout, a painful arthritic condition that has hampered him in retirement. He has teamed up with Takeda Pharmaceuticals to spread the word on treatment options.
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"I'm doing pretty good," he said of his struggle. "Gout is a personal thing. It affects our bodies differently. Our programs are designed to work with us individually, not collectively."
Naturally, though, the conversation was Cowboys-centric. Last month, when we spoke with Smith's former quarterback, Troy Aikman, he wouldn't rule out the possibility of rejoining the organization in order to help Jones and Co. get back on track.
"I'm not sure, maybe," said Aikman. "I can see myself doing a lot of things, but whether or not the opportunity were to present itself, that's a different question."
Interestingly, despite the fact that Smith supports what Jones is doing, he'd also be down to help the Cowboys out.
"Yes, I would consider something like that," Smith said when we asked him if he'd consider taking a job with the team, "but I honestly think Jerry Jones and his family, they understand what they need to do. I think Jerry's done a great job of putting the talent on the football field and getting talent into the organization."