Winds Of Change In Dallas? Moore’s New Role Means Jerry Is Still Beating An Age-Old Drum
He came to Dallas branded as a greedy but gifted galoot of rare dander. He was said to be overpaid, but not overweight. Not just fast, he carried the label of being the NFL’s fastest human in tights.
I hereby declare him, at this late date, to also have been a rare visionary, with powers of perception that have yet to be surpassed since his departure of nearly two decades ago. I speak of none other than Deion Sanders.
Oh, you knew him by many names. Neon. Primetime. Longtime Dallas Morning News columnist Randy Galloway even referred to him as “Mr. Wonderful.”
You deemed him to be many things to many people. A showboat. A religious proselyte. To Galloway, he was a “Nine-Toed Fraud.”
Who would have guessed back then that Deion would leave such a luminous example for this current generation of Cowboy worshippers to use as a guiding principle.
Yes sir, Deion was a sharp-witted ol’ cuss of a cornerback, never to be confused with a fool. Or a mercenary. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones learned this lesson the hard way.
Two months had passed since an 8-8 Cowboys team had been bounced from the Wild-Card playoffs by a far superior Minnesota squad. Now, in the spring of the year 2000, Jerry was holding out hope that Deion would accept a diminished salary in order to remain a member of America’s Team and help Dallas maintain relevancy into the 21st Century.
But Deion was having none of it. Four seasons had elapsed since the Cowboys had been in the Super Bowl and, to his way of understanding, the team’s steady decline was no fluke. The Cowboys were being grossly mismanaged.
Deion came to Dallas in the first place for a lot of Jerry’s money and because of a promise that he would get a chance to play wide receiver. But Jerry’s bag of gold and optimistic spirit wasn’t enough to blind Deion from the reality of a crumbling roster and a dying dynasty.
Deion wanted no part of a pay-cut, and no part of the unavoidable doom hanging over the franchise. He, in short, wanted out, relaying this message to the media in no uncertain terms.
“You can’t convince me things are going to change around here when we keep doing the same things over and over,” reads a conveniently edited version of Sanders’ interview. “We’re letting good players leave, and hiring the same coaches we considered to be a problem a few years before. Sorry.”
Here we are eighteen years later and Jerry, ever large and in charge, is still trying to finagle a way to get his team back into the Big Game. Simple hearts point to a recent rash of coaching staff casualties as cause to believe that Jones has finally hit upon the right formula.
The accepted theory is that, by sending a host of assistants packing, the Cowboys are sending the message that they will no longer accept mediocrity. At long last, 9-7 isn’t good enough.
And those “look in the mirror” comments aimed at Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott from Stephen Jones earlier this week at the Senior Bowl are a clear indication that the Cowboys are returning to their roots of a Protestant work ethic. Surely, Tom Landry is looking down on The Star with a smile.
But look long and look hard. Look at Jerry. This off-season filled with pink slips isn’t as rosy as some would have you believe. All those reports of “change” you’ve been reading are not only premature, but delusional. Does anything truly change in Dallas when Jerry is stirring the pot?
The story is an old one, with a theme that I’m sure Deion would be familiar with. It centers around a quarterback…….and Jerry.
The story begins in the convoluted caverns of Jerry’s mind. And, let’s just clear this up right at the top: The waves of modern football genius do not emanate from the brain of Jerry. Never have. Never will.
Oh, Jerry has often used his credentials to argue the point, though it comes across in the same fashion as a player using statistics at the negotiating table. He cherry picks them to suit his purpose. Three Super Bowl rings. A Hall of Fame bust. And the lofty title of Free-Agency Wizard, thanks in large part to that long-ago signing of “Mr. Wonderful.”
But this business of Kellen Moore is just one more shred of proof that Jerry is nothing short of a blowhard as a scout, and that he is still clinging to one of his highest callings as the owner and general manager of the Cowboys.
Ever since the days of Jimmy Johnson, it’s been Jerry’s desire to personally discover a football gem to stroke and hold up for the throngs to admire. Risky trades were said to be his forte, but his luck dried up the instant he sent Jimmy packing. Franchise quarterbacks were supposed to be his next specialty, but that didn’t work out so well.
In recent years, having settled upon Jason Garrett as this generation’s Tom Landry on the sideline, Jerry has started dabbling again in the quarterback market. He talked up Johnny Football as a football Elvis, until son Stephen put his dad in a stranglehold on draft night to avoid such a disaster.
Not one to be discouraged, Jerry was heard soon after touting the abilities of one Brandon Weeden. Weeden, so said Jones, threw the prettiest ball of any Dallas quarterback he had seen not named Aikman. Cowboy fans remember well how Weeden’s tenure played out.
Down two strikes in the count, Jerry has been determined to see Moore make good on all of the football potential that Jones sees in him, hanging onto the career bench-warmer past all hope, even past Moore’s playing days. Jerry’s infatuation with Moore began on the final day of the 2015 regular season when Moore passed for over 400 yards versus an obviously indifferent Redskins defense that was more interested in staying healthy for the playoffs than scrapping with a 4-11 Cowboys bunch.
Eager to offer hope to a pessimistic fanbase, Jerry spent his postgame briefing with the media portraying Moore as a future bright spot in the Dallas offense. If not starting quality, Moore certainly possessed all of the tools and skills to serve as a creditable NFL backup. Then, in the middle of Dak Prescott’s miraculous rookie run in 2016, Jones said he believed that had it not been for a fractured ankle suffered during training camp, then Moore would have been guiding the Dallas charge to the top of the conference.
But Jones was silenced the following summer when Moore was outplayed for the backup role by undrafted rookie Cooper Rush. Moore stayed around through the 2017 season, but only as a practice squad player.
And now the latest developments. What is it exactly that makes Moore better qualified to be a quarterbacks coach than Wade Wilson? Jerry hasn’t exactly been forthcoming on that issue, and for obvious reason.
It has often been said around the league that Wilson is one of the best friends that a young quarterback could have. Wilson, you will recall, was the sage knight who educated Quincy Carter on the fundamental rudiments of gripping and throwing a professional-sized football. His was the calm voice of reason through so many of the highs and lows of Tony Romo’s career.
Wilson was credited for finding Prescott and encouraging the front-office to take a draft-day flyer on him. He then helped get the rookie settled into the offense after Romo’s preseason injury, imploring Prescott to keep it simple on the field and just deliver the ball to the open target. Only Jerry’s behind-the-scenes politicking that more passes be directed toward Dez Bryant during 2017 could undermine Wilson’s message to his young quarterback, and proved to be the driving force behind Prescott’s sophomore slump.
That Wilson should be chunked so easily to the curb for the betterment of a 28-year old with no proven track record as a coach or a player sounds like the prototypical scenario of Jerry’s making. Whether it requires saying or doing, leave it to Jerry to always be operating on the outside of the box, defying the laws of wisdom and reason in his pursuit of an individually-crafted endowment of football glory.
And pardon the pause of a skeptic, but it should be considered a miracle of a rare variety if this situation were not soon buried in the rubble of discontent and shortcomings.
Around Dallas, if it sounds like a duck and walks like a duck and talks like a duck, well, then it must be Jerry. And with Jerry, what goes around comes around. Just like Deion said.