This space has often been used to take Jerry Jones to task for his meddling ways. The Dallas Cowboys' lightning rod owner does and says more than enough to earn it. However, not every move the hands-on owner/general manager of America's team makes is bad.
In fact, this past offseason is proving to be one of his better ones for the Cowboys. While a couple of key injuries mandate that we table any real analysis of the Cowboys' '09 draft (besides, you never really know about drafts until two to four years later), the free agent signings are looking like strokes of pure football genius.
For me, it begins with Keith Brooking. Jerry and so-called head coach Wade Phillips were right in their belief that the veteran linebacker has more than a little gas left in his tank. He has turned in close to Pro Bowl caliber play through the first seven games of the season.
But Brooking is even more important to the team because he is a leader. He is passionate, committed, and team oriented. He has a vibrant personality, and it is infectious.
Brooking is just the beginning. Gerald Sensabaugh, wounded hand and all, is helping to turn a suspect secondary into a stellar one. He can cover, deliver the big hits, and he plays smart. He also takes pressure off the cornerbacks, enabling them to play their positions with more confidence and more ability to take a chance.
Then there is Igor the Terrible. Igor Olshansky, the choice to replace the departed Chris Canty, is a run-stopping, gap-filling brute on the defensive line. He has surpassed the "serviceable" tag some wanted to place on him.
Finally, we have to mention the trade that brought Jon Kitna to the Cowboys. No intelligent fan of the team wants to find out just how much of an addition Kitna is to the team, since that would mean Romo is somehow incapacitated, but last year taught Mr. Jones the value of having a quality player holding that clipboard.
With these key additions and Wade's attention to the defense (no one ever accused the man of not being a great defensive coordinator), and with time to gel, the defensive unit is looking like one of the team's greatest strengths.
So, Mr. Jones, you may be your own worst enemy when it comes to building and sustaining a championship caliber team, but you are not as inept a "football" man as your harshest critics would like to make us all believe. You do get it right, at least as often as you get it wrong.
Locking up DeMarcus Ware. Backing Tony Romo when he was under intense fire. Building the great Football Cathedral. Cutting Terrell Owens. Getting way more than a little bang for your bucks this offseason. Good moves, all of them.
Good job, Jerry.