IRVING, Texas – Walking through the halls of the Cowboys’ Valley Ranch practice facility there’s always a realistic chance that you’ll run into Jerry Jones. And the Cowboys owner and general manager is usually open to stopping and chatting for a few minutes, as he did on Wednesday.
While the news of the day was the season-ending injury suffered by inside linebacker Sean Lee, Jones also spoke at length about his popular franchise and its starting quarterback.
The following summary followed after a reporter asked Jones about the high expectations placed on Tony Romo and the criticism he receives. The 70-year-old owner said his expectations for Romo are probably higher than anyone else’s.
But why do Cowboys players, like Romo, seem to be more scrutinized than others around the league?
“We push a lot out on the table with the Cowboys,” Jones said. “Picture going to Las Vegas and putting an inordinate amount on the table with every hand or with every throw. We do that and I am a part of that. When you do that and you don’t have the right hand or win, then you subject yourself to a lot more criticism.”
Does Jones ever feel like he needs to pull some of those chips back?
“No,” he responded. “That’s our style. I have won with that style. I feel we are not in the business … we are not managing a widow-woman’s retirement accounts here. In other words, to compete, I think we need to be aggressive. You play the game, you manage the game that way, you take some risks when they don’t pay off (and) they look bad. That has happened. I think that’s one of the luxuries of my position as owner as well as the ultimate decision-maker, general manager and president, I can do that and take the losses and come back for more.”
The Cowboys haven’t come close to duplicating the success the franchise had during Jones’ early years as owner, reaching the playoffs only once in the last four years. So what’s the problem? Does he need better cards on the table? Does Romo need more help around him?
Jones didn’t say if he did, but his response solidified his support for the 32-year-old quarterback.
“I felt for the last two years, certainly last year was a very disappointing year because he had a great season and we should have as a team been there and knocking on the door more than we were,” Jones said. “To some degree we were, but the Giants were better. I hope that we get the same opportunity this year, he’s very capable of doing it and I hope that he can maintain this level of play and use his experience.
“I hope that he can maintain it for several years in the future. I hope that. No one knows that but I think, relatively speaking in his career he hasn’t played as much football as his years in the NFL represent. I think that because of his intellect, because of his understanding of the game and, frankly, his skills that he’s going to be playing for a long time. I think we’ve got a quarterback in Tony Romo here for many years to come.”
Earlier this month, Cowboys offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Callahan said the Cowboys were going to work on “simplifying” the play calls so there would be less confusion on offense. However, since Callahan made those comments on October 11, Romo appears to be doing even more at the line of scrimmage before each play.
“We’ve basically created a little less pre-snap action, pre-snap communication with the rest of the team,” Jones said. “That’s not taking the load off him, that’s the communication before the ball is snapped has been tightened up and probably crisper.”
After the ball is snapped, Jones simply wants Romo to be himself.
“We don’t want to take the Romo out of Romo because it’s going to get us where we’re going to get,” Jones said. “We’ve got to keep the Romo in Romo. He’s going to have to be the one that gets out there and decides whether or not he wants to try to make the play or not.
“From my perspective, I’ve always told him, ‘Go out there and make those fabulous plays, keep the drives moving, but don’t turn the ball over.'”
Jones then laughed.
“Please understand, I’m almost tongue-in-cheek when I say that,” he responded. “We all know that’s talking out of both sides of your mouth.”