Among Cowboy Figureheads, Jerry Jones Is The Lone Star In Dallas
The opening press conference at training camp is often like an amateur sky-diving meet. Half the contestants land doozies, and the other half wind up terminally ill. Some convey confidence, others uncertainty. Some are counted wise, others are deemed football fools…
And then there’s Jerry Jones.
Yes, our local Jerry is an interesting sports personality and is someone perfectly suited to pigskin politics in July, though it goes without saying that he would have been voted out of office long ago were the NFL interested in a democratic form of government.
Jones knows business, and he knows the power of public opinion. And he also understands the vulnerable nature of football fans as each season begins. The Cowboy faithful don’t want to hear about Tony Romo’s bad back right now or a butchered defensive unit or (gasp!) another 8-8 season on the way.
They want to be informed of the progress which the long off-season permitted and why this is the perfect group of guys to make a breakthrough into January.
Jerry, as you might have expected he would, proved eager to please before a sun-drenched audience out in Oxnard.
But more than obliging the fans with tales of managerial brilliance, Jerry’s camp-opening press conference revealed a darker side to the current state of the Cowboys franchise.
Amidst the many gooey references to patience and progress came the alarming realization that the only high-ranking Cowboys figurehead with any remaining clout in the public marketplace is Jerry himself.
With a fat contract and a hand in every facet of the offense’s weekly game-plan, Tony Romo is certainly a power figure at Valley Ranch. What the media and a certain faction of the Cowboy faithful can’t figure out is why.
It’s long been agreed that Romo is a “good” quarterback, but still, now at age 34, doesn’t have the victories on his resume to even suggest classifying him as “great.” And he is a long, long throw from being considered a “clutch” quarterback in this league. Not in December and January, anyway.
After so many years of heartbreak and fourth-quarter meltdowns, there is a growing belief that Romo isn’t the guy that will get this team over the 8-8 hump.
And while the quarterback’s good standing with ownership is something to marvel at, the presence of Jason Garrett is, to many, equally so. How a head coach can fail to meet the expectations of his boss for three years running and still manage to hang onto his job has been the million-dollar question for the past seven months.
Not that keeping his position means a whole lot. Jerry stripped him of much of his power last off-season when he re-arranged Garrett’s coaching staff and has shown nary an inkling of apologizing for it. Garrett is a head coach today who is prevented by the owner from putting a critical stamp on his roster, thereby relegated to the status of being in a coaching coma, helpless as Jerry ponders pulling the plug.
Fans and members of the media won’t look to a football vegetable for answers to the many problems which the Cowboys are currently faced with.
Don’t expect them to be hunting down defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli for any magic potions either. For all those enthusiasts predicting a franchise record in turnovers in 2014, well, hold your horses. With the roster that Marinelli will be working with this fall, the best magic he could be hoping for is a couple more punting situations each Sunday.
Well, Monte has been permanently banished to the ranks of office-janitor after last season’s defensive embarrassment, never to be heard from again.
Which, on Wednesday afternoon, left Jerry alone out front and center before a critical audience. He wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The questions were blunt, yet pointed.
Is this a make-or-break year for your head coach? Why did you release backup quarterback Kyle Orton? Why Brandon Weeden as Orton’s replacement?
His answers met the expectations of everyone present by being bold, confident, and, at times, woefully confusing.
And though a feeling of dissatisfaction remained after Jerry left the stage, nobody was foolhardy enough to dismiss him as simply another diminutive Valley Ranch being. On this day, the obvious was just that.
The only star left in Dallas is Jerry, though there are more than a few with the opinion that he is merely a star unto himself.