Jerry Loved Johnny Football, But Not Enough For Common Sense
The three-day NFL Draft provided for some great moments. For us. For Johnny. Yes, even for Jerry.
As you would expect, some made better use of their opportunities than others. Some left well alone. Jerry, per norm, couldn’t help himself. He found a microphone, and proved bent on proving a point.
By the time the smoke cleared yesterday afternoon and he ran out of steam, the only point proven was what the world already knew; Jerry’s long on words, short on marbles.
This was one draft that the Cowboys had to get right. There were too many gaps on their roster for them not to.
After Thursday’s first-round selection of Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin, it appeared that the Cowboys were on the right track to accomplish just that. By passing on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel at No. 16, the Cowboys were able to instantly upgrade their offensive line with the addition of Martin, theoretically making life easier in the pocket for the surgically-repaired back of starting quarterback Tony Romo.
When you are a franchise desperately trying to get over the hump of three straight 8-8 campaigns, getting an immediate starter with your first selection is a necessity. The Cowboys should be applauded for making a good pick. Not a great one, but good. Yes, going with a defensive lineman in the first round seemed to be the way to go, but Jerry Jones covered that base the following evening in the second round when he traded up for Boise State end Demarcus Lawrence.
There is an age-old secret in the game of football that suggests teams who manage to control the line of scrimmage hold a distinct advantage over their opponent. The Cowboys have been getting pushed around on both sides of the ball for several years now, and these first two selections should help alleviate the growing pains of a suspect receiving corps and a woeful secondary.
All in all, the Cowboys did OK. And it would have been left at that……if not for Jerry.
You just knew something had to be wrong with Jerry doing something right. Jerry and common sense rarely go together. Jerry and Elvis, apparently, would never co-exist either.
The post-draft press conference began, and a reporter asked the Cowboys’ owner to explain his reasoning for passing on Manziel. The philosophy of two decades worth of football futility resurfaced in alarming fashion.
Jones was quick to divulge the fact that Manziel was the Cowboys’ highest-rated player remaining on their board when their number was called in Round 1, but insisted that he didn’t believe the franchise could have handled the controversy that would come with Manziel. Not at this time, anyway.
“I just think that it needs to be put in the equation as what you’re going to be dealing with, what you’re going to be living with,” Jones said. “The one sure thing was that if he were a Cowboy this morning, it was going to absolutely be not only everything and what he is in the NFL and what have you, but there was no question it was going to be Romo and him, in some form or fashion in every conversation with that. There’s no way it couldn’t have been that.”
Also clear was the fact that nobody, not even a game-ready player like Jones believed Manziel to be, was going to challenge Tony Romo. From the sound of things, Romo is the unquestioned starter as long as he remains a Cowboy, which Jones expects to be much longer than generally anticipated.
“At the end of the day, where we are is that there’s no way we’re not going to be without Romo for the next four, five, six – whatever you want to say – years,” Jones said. “It was too significant for [Manziel] to be an insurance policy…It’s not the usual development guy behind an accomplished quarterback. [Manziel’s] a celebrity. He’s Elvis Presley.”
Which makes the Johnny Football package much too large for the Dallas spotlight. But more than just that, it also sheds light on a recurring theme that has kept Valley Ranch grounded in mediocrity ever since Jimmy Johnson’s larger-than-life persona was dismissed.
Jerry, in his own capacity as team general manager, cannot abide his superstars being pushed for their job. It was this way back in the 1990’s with The Triplets, and is still that way today with Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten.
Jones paid dearly for this at the turn of the century, starting with Michael Irvin’s career-ending injury in October of 1999. Without a top-notch wide receiver on the roster, Jones duly sent two first-round draft selections to Seattle for the services of Joey Galloway.
Galloway was lost for the season in a Week 1 loss to Philadelphia, and a 34-year old Aikman would retire the following April due to a rash of back problems. Without a quarterback to lead the offense, the Cowboys were sunk.
Jones was facing a similar cross-roads on Thursday night, and actually had a chance to prevent his team from falling off the competitive universe in the case of another injury to his starting quarterback. But he passed on the remedy, ultimately citing competition as the cause.
Things seem to happen in cycles around Valley Ranch. With Jimmy Johnson in town, there were the Super Bowl titles. With Dave Campo, it was 5-11. These days it’s 8-8.
Romo is coming off two back surgeries in a twelve-month period, and, like Aikman before him, just happens to be 34-years of age. Should his back flare up again this season, Jones will be wishing he had someone in the fold that could measure up to Romo’s standards.
Someone better than Quincy Carter. Someone like Johnny Football.