Jerry Jones’ Criticism Of Tony Romo Just Another Devious Game Of Politics
Remember when nobody at Valley Ranch would dare criticize Tony Romo?
Of a certainty, those days are long gone. These are the new-age Cowboys, a team that pounds opponents into the turf on Sundays, and then rips their star players during the week. Suddenly, Valley Ranch is a camp of accountability. And Jerry Jones is leading the charge.
As weeks go, it was a good one for Jerry Jones. Starting up in Nashville where the patrons at LP Field affectionately chanted his name in the closing moments of Dallas’ 26-10 victory, it has managed to stretch over these last handful of days on the wings of a verbal assault on Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
Jerry, it seems, is playing hardball with his quarterback these days, almost to the point of being downright negative. This, to a fanbase that wants to suggest “organizational turnaround” after each Cowboys triumph, was exactly what they wanted to hear.
Back when Romo was just a pup, it was Bill Parcells who nagged him constantly about one thing or another. The belief has held strong since Bill’s departure that Romo has missed that strong voice in the locker room, as he has been awarded a record contract, and what some might consider as absolute control of the Dallas offense, all while leading the Cowboys on an 8-8 trek to nowhere.
The specter of Parcells has certainly grown smaller in the rear-view mirror over time, while Romo is large and in charge of a Cowboys team that continues to struggle.
Concerns over Romo’s well-being hit a new high this past week, albeit in the aftermath of a Cowboys win. Through two games Romo’s performances fall in the category of thud and dud. He was both inefficient and awful against San Francisco, tossing three first-half interceptions which effectively ended the contest, and then turned in a much quieter day versus Tennessee, though he uncharacteristically short-armed several throws.
What’s wrong with Romo? What could possibly be plaguing America’s quarterback?
There with all of the answers was the second-coming of Parcells, as the Cowboys owner tackled this subject with as much direct purpose as to unnerve all of us. Jerry ended the international debate, citing not only rust as the prime culprit in Romo’s slow start, but sloppy footwork as well.
That Jerry. He not only sees all, he tells all.
Of course, considering the timeline of events over the past few years, finding Romo in Jerry’s doghouse was anything but expected.
Tony loses games, and owner gives him a fat new contract. He goes out and helps to beat a Titans team on the road and suddenly Jerry is singing a different tune.
Is Jerry a changed man?
Don’t you believe it.
This is a classic case of politics that Jones is playing right now, trying his very best to save the face of the franchise from a world of heartache. Yes, that would be his face, in case you were speculating the point. Tony may pull a few strings from time to time, but he’s got a long, long way to go before he can become puppet master.
Jerry’s greatest talent as head honcho of all things football is an ability to play a game of smoke and mirrors with the public. And, believe me, never a more devious mind existed in this arena.
If you will look closely at the Cowboys’ injury list for today’s game against St. Louis, you will find Romo marked down as probable, with some sort of back ailment. This is the third consecutive week in which he has been on the injured list. And the Cowboys owner won’t talk about it.
Sure, he’ll go so far as to say that Romo is rusty and has struggled with his footwork, but won’t go anywhere near saying that his quarterback is actually hurt. Jones has said more than once that Romo is one-hundred percent healthy.
Romo would hardly pass the eye-test with such favorable regard after the first two weeks of play. His passes lack zip, his accuracy is inconsistent, and his throwing motion has often had a hitch on the follow through. Throw in the fact that Romo limps while rolling to his right, and that he has been seen grimacing several times on the Dallas sideline during games, and there is little reason to believe that the Cowboys quarterback is anything close to being his old self.
Jones can deal with facts when it comes to relating to the league front-office. He doesn’t have any choice. Unless your name is Belichik, there’s no reason to try to play games with your team’s injury report. The NFL doesn’t look kindly upon it.
But splitting straws in the public arena is an undertaking Jones figures to be well worth the time, considering what’s all at stake.
Jones’ recent investments are of the bold and dangerous variety, which is just the kind he prefers. Gambling big and winning big leaves a prime platform for Jerry to stand on and gloat, something we all know he can be partial to. He made it look good when Jimmy Johnson was beside him, but has lost every bet since.
(Go ahead. It’s safe to draw conclusions.)
His latest wager just happens to be placed on the health and welfare of his franchise quarterback. As if it wasn’t enough for Jones to watch Johnny Manziel slip by in the draft, he let every other quarterback walk as well. He not only stated his belief that Romo could play another five years, but was willing to prove it.
Never let it be said that Jones was full of hot air in this regard. He was more than willing to tempt fate. So it’s no to Johnny Football, goodbye to Kyle Orton, and an indifferent air toward any and all up-and-coming gunslingers.
The only credible arm in the Cowboys bullpen right now is one Brandon Weeden who, if you’re listening to Cowboys assistant coaches, is anything but a prime prospect at this date.
It’s Romo or bust this season for the Cowboys, and Jerry isn’t inclined to admit even the possibility of failure. That’s why he – and every other Ranch hand – won’t even speculate upon the fact that Romo is an injured quarterback right now. And why it’s OK to harp on Romo’s “rust” and poor technique.
Jones knows no end to promoting the well-being of his franchise quarterback. In 2000, there was Troy Aikman to look out for, another 34-year old veteran with five years still remaining on a back-loaded contract. And when a hard-hitting Eagles defense knocked Aikman from the season-opener in Irving with a concussion, the situation appeared to have been taken out of Jones’ hands.
Already with a questionable back, Aikman was now dealing with severe headaches as the team prepared to travel to Arizona for their next game. As reports began circulating that backup quarterback Randall Cunningham would start, there were many in the media who believed that Aikman was playing his last season of professional football.
That’s when Jerry pulled a PR rabbit out of the hat. Rather than have the fans moaning over a broken quarterback and a broken franchise, Jones let it be known that his star quarterback was on the inactive list due to an “inner-ear infection.”
Sudden? Yes. Believable? Not really.
Jones became the brunt of many an “ear infection” joke over the next several days, as Aikman sat out the next two games.
After what transpired with Aikman, Jones can’t afford wind of a possible injury to his quarterback hitting the national airwaves. Not if he wants to maintain the tough-guy image he has enjoyed building this past week.
Right now, Jones is playing this charade for all its worth, because without it fans can’t believe in him, nor the team he has such high hopes for.