The alarms at Valley Ranch went off at approximately 9:15 a.m. local time Tuesday. That’s about the time Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones hopped on his flagship radio station for one of his weekly radio shows.
If only we could see the look on Jason Garrett’s face when Jerry starts discussing the merits of zone-coverage versus man. The Cowboys owner firmly denied that any changes would be made with the coaching staff, but that didn’t keep him from offering advice on both sides of the ball.
“We certainly want to emphasize the good things that can be done in the defense that we’re in and I think maybe it’s a time for that,” Jones told 105.3. “Maybe a time for looking at what each of these guys do the best and make sure we’re asking them to do that out there, and I’m basically talking about our corners. Can we have our corners to play a little more man and a little less zone?”
And if you were expecting Jerry to fall on his sword for not supplying defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin with much quality depth via the draft, think again. He looked upon the Superdome field Sunday night and saw plenty of potential. (Perhaps it’s time for son-in-law to clean those glasses).
“I think there’s more talent there than has been there and with that in mind we should be improved,” said Jones. “We played a heck a heck of a team, one of the best we’ve played. They were able to do a very effective job of staying on the field and with us limited, which I think we will improve from where we were the other night on the field relative to talent.”
Parse those quotes at your own risk. I believe Jerry’s saying the Cowboys ran into a buzzsaw in the Big Easy and that the return of Jason Hatcher and perhaps the addition of a veteran safety off the street will solve some of the issues. But something tells me Eli Manning will be licking his chops when these teams meet two Sundays from now in New Jersey. By then, the Giants could have a chance to improve to 5-6 and be in a tie with the Cowboys in the NFC East.
Jones scoffed at the thought of making changes to his coaching staff during the bye week. It’s too bad Kiffin’s son, Lane, didn’t have someone more like Jerry serving as athletic director at USC. Jones seemed incredulous by the very thought of changes.
“Say it any way you want to, I’m not even going to address — really I’m not — the coaching staff as to whether they’re safe or they’re not,” Jones said. “We’re 5-5. We’re tied for the lead in our division. We’ve got players coming back. We’ve got one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League. We’re off of a rough loss.
“That doesn’t call for major changes out here at all.”
And therein lies Jones’ greatest strength and weakness. He’s always a good night’s rest away from optimism. Late Sunday night, he was second-guessing his decision to fire Rob Ryan and replace him with Kiffin. He talked about how discouraging it was not to be competitive against the Saints. But by Tuesday a 5-5 record and a tie for first place in the NFC East sounded a lot better to him.
Jones can’t admit the obvious: that he’s whiffed on so many draft picks that it’s impossible to have quality depth. He and son Stephen insisted the Cowboys would never again face the litany of injuries that occurred in 2012. That’s one of the reasons they made a luxury pick in the second round of the draft (TE Gavin Escobar) instead of trying to create depth along the defensive line. Jones can’t afford to admit failure on this current path, in part because he’s the man who carved it.
This is an organization that has become the very definition of mediocrity. But even achieving their annual total of eight wins could be difficult at this point. The Philadelphia Eagles have somehow rallied behind second-year quarterback Nick Foles following his miserable performance in a 17-3 loss to the Cowboys. The Eagles improved to 5-5 Sunday with a win in Green Bay. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed the game with a broken collarbone, but it’s a good bet he’ll return to the field in time to face the Cowboys on Dec. 15. And a fully healthy Jay Cutler should be ready for the Cowboys the previous week. Cutler was clearly not himself Sunday in a 21-19 loss to the Lions.
The climb to Mount .500 looks more treacherous than ever. But if Jerry gets this cornerback situation figured out soon, is there any reason to worry?