Jerry Jones' Decision On Head Coach May Very Well Determine Cowboy Legacy

Freddy Blair@supermansdadCorrespondent IDecember 25, 2010

The Cowboys of the last decade have repeatedly embarrassed Jerry Jones just when he thought they were back to greatness.
The Cowboys of the last decade have repeatedly embarrassed Jerry Jones just when he thought they were back to greatness.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

When Jerry Jones finally does make a decision on who will be the next Cowboys head coach, it very well could determine if the Cowboys legacy of greatness disappears.

For this era in sports, anyway.

I grew up watching the Cowboys of the 70's; and the late 80's were tough to take, but by the time the 90's rolled around the Cowboys were back on top—better than ever.

Then came the free fall of the late 90's that has led us to this point—and the Cowboys still haven't made it back to the greatness they once embodied as a franchise.

Instead, they have become downright ordinary, plagued with the mediocrity that is the norm amongst many of the NFL's perennial "also rans."

A little rebuilding is expected, but 15 years of it is unacceptable—especially for a franchise dubbed "America's Team."

For 50 years the Cowboys have symbolized all that Americans love in a hero: success, strength, prestige, greatness, and even what might be termed as "regal." The Cowboys franchise embodied what might be referred to as royalty in a sense, and being a Dallas Cowboy meant more than just being a football player.

Players that wore the white, blue, and silver of the Cowboys uniforms were looked up to readily by fans across the country, as we had become accustomed to seeing this franchise embody the excellence, prestige, and success that we all hoped for in our own lives.

But, it is the coaching that has failed this team, not the players. It is the long line of "wannabe's," "pretenders," and "egomaniacs" that have worn the headsets and the polo shirts on the sidelines that have continually underperformed, and have collected paycheck after paycheck while this team's been soaked in mediocrity and apathy.

Coaching is about teaching and leadership. It must be done with a firm demand to accept nothing less than the achieving of perfection. It must be carried out with a determination that will not allow those that he leads to stray from the principles that instill in them the qualities that make them excellent.

But it cannot be done with ego and pride, attempting to show the world how smart or clever the coach is. It cannot be carried out with how you are perceived by the media in post game interviews as your main concern.

It has to be about the team, and how you can make them better each day.

It wasn't too long ago (the middle to the end of last year) that the Cowboys were all talking about leadership, and how players needed to step up and lead. And then suddenly there were questions about whether Tony Romo could provide that leadership and take this team to the next level.

Where the Cowboys missed the boat was not ensuring that there was proper leadership in the coaching department. In the past, it had been the head coaching that was seen as being "too soft", or "Jerry's Puppet". Too often, the Cowboys simply didn't have a coach that knew how to lead the players in the right direction. 

At least when Wade Phillips was hired to be the head coach of  the Cowboys, it ensured that the Cowboys defense would once again be one of the top defenses in the NFL. And it worked, too. The Cowboys defense was once again a force to be reckoned with. 

Phillips , however, was not the type of coach to dominate a team and impose his will on a group of players in order to raise them to a higher level of play. While few could equal his ability to coordinate a defense, he simply was not the man to run an entire team. This left Jason Garrett to run the offense, and Garrett was simply too inexperienced and immature to coordinate an NFL caliber offense with the consistency needed for success on a regular basis. Too often, the Cowboys would fall short in games that they should have won easily, as the offense seemed apathetic and undisciplined at times.  

This year, it was the inept leadership from the offensive coaching from the opening game that led to a pass happy offensive scheme in the first eight games that repeatedly turned the ball over to the opposing team in their own territory. Despite being able to move the ball on the ground when they tried, the Cowboys offense repeatedly ignored the ground game as they attempted to put on a dazzling air show with Tony Romo and the Cowboys stable of superstar wide receivers.

Ignoring the ground game led to league leading passing statistics, but also to turn overs, a failure to score in the red zone, and the failure to achieve dominance on the line of scrimmage. As the Cowboys would get closer to the end zone, the shortened field created by the back of the end zone aided opposing defenses in their attempt to derail the Cowboys high flying passing attack. Turn overs in the Cowboys own end of the field in close games repeatedly gave opposing teams the ball in scoring position.

This was the difference in games they were losing by seven points or less—and it cost them the entire season before balance finally returned to the offense and order was restored.

Now we have another man desperate to hold that prestigious title of "Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys," attempting to make Jerry and the fans believe that he has all the answers that will fix this team. Jason Garrett stands at the podium each week and gives his speeches to the media, attempting to cement his hold on this team.

Never mind that it was the inept handling of the offense that has cost this team the 2010 season, and possibly pulled down the shade just a little on the window of opportunity for this group of players.

Jerry Jones can't afford to get this one wrong. 15 years have passed since the Cowboys last competed in a Super Bowl. 15 years have passed since the Cowboys have been a routine visitor to the Playoffs.

15 years have passed since the Cowboys have achieved greatness, and the legacy of greatness embodied by this franchise is on the verge of disappearing. And once it goes, it will be harder to rebuild than Jerry Jones can imagine.

The long line of second rate coaching has caused this team to fall to a level of immaturity and mediocrity that routinely embarrasses it's owner and the fans of this team. Every time Jerry Jones begins to believe that this team will finally return to the greatness it once embodied, another implosion on a national stage takes place.

Jerry better get this one right. If Jason Garrett is not the man for this team—as I and many others do not believe that he is—Jerry could destroy what is left of the greatness of this franchise by naming him the next head coach of the Cowboys.

It's time to face facts, Mr. Jones: No matter how much you like Jason Garrett, and no matter how many fond memories you have of the era in which Jason Garrett was a third-string quarterback for the Super Bowl winners. You have to ask yourself if he really has shown you that he is mature enough, and if he is battle worthy to lead this team back to greatness.

He ran the most talented group of offensive players in the NFL for the last four years, and each of those seasons ended with an offensive shutdown resulting in embarrassment again and again—and this year the offense didn't even show up for the first eight games.

Before you name Jason Garrett as the next head coach, you had better be sure that he is capable, mature enough, and possess the instincts needed to lead a team to greatness before you entrust the legacy of this franchise with him.

Because if you are wrong, the legacy of this Cowboys franchise may damaged to the point of being remembered (in this era at least) as the biggest flop in the NFL.

Play time is over, Mr. Jones. If you miss this time, it could be the end of an era.

Oh, and by the way:

Merry Christmas to all of you.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.