Can Jerry Jones watch Cowboys wobble much longer?
Jerry Jones has way too much riding on this season to sit back
and watch his Dallas Cowboys wobble much longer.
Should they lose again Sunday and sink to 0-3 in a season the
Super Bowl will be played at the sparkling new Cowboys Stadium, the
owner-general manager is bound to do something.
Maybe he would cut someone like struggling kicker David Buehler
to send the club a message about not tolerating mistakes. Jimmy
Johnson did that with a running back who fumbled twice in a
meaningless season finale; a month later, Jones won his first Super
Maybe he’d decide being both head coach and defensive
coordinator is overwhelming Wade Phillips. Jones could ease that
burden by naming himself head coach. If Barry Switzer managed to
win Jones a third Super Bowl by staying out of the way of his
talented players, Jones might reckon he could pull that off,
Heck, maybe Switzer is free the next few months.
The reality is that Jones is more likely to ride this out
without making drastic changes, at least unless things get much
As bad as it seems, Dallas is only one game behind in the NFC
East and there are 14 games left. Even if the Cowboys lose in
Houston on Sunday, they’d be no worse than two games back with 13
to go. They’d have to stew on that during a bye week, but Jones
could spin that as more time to work out the kinks.
”Everything in me is about being optimistic,” Jones said
Sunday, still flush with the agony of a 27-20 loss to Chicago in
the home opener. ”These losses can be mitigated.”
The stakes are higher than usual this season because the Super
Bowl is at Jones’ $1.2 billion playpen. Not only was he dreaming of
having the first team to play the Super Bowl in its home stadium,
others were doing it for him. Dallas was a chic pick among some to
win the NFC because it was coming off a division title and its
first playoff win since 1996.
It’s understandable to think Jones’ patience is wearing thin.
But firing Phillips would be out of character, even for a guy who
canned Johnson after winning two straight Super Bowls.
If Jones had an itchy trigger finger regarding Phillips, it made
more sense to fire him last season, when his contract was running
out. There was speculation last October that Jones would use the
bye week to break in a new coach, then again after consecutive
losses in December.
Phillips ended up being signed through next season.
Forget the money he’s owed. The lesson is that Jones – who has
changed coaches six times, but never during a season – has made it
clear he likes working with Phillips. It’s also worth noting
Phillips is Dallas’ first successful coach since Switzer who gladly
allows Jones to run things his way.
Phillips said Monday the fear of getting fired is not what
drives him to solve problems like his defense having zero turnovers
and just two sacks.
”It’s my own pride in myself and working at what I do and
trying to do better,” he said. ”We went 11-5 in Houston (as an
assistant under his dad, Bum Phillips) and we’d just been to the
AFC championship game two years in a row. We lost a playoff game
and they fired us. I thought I was doing a good job.
”From then on I didn’t judge myself on those things, I judged
myself on how hard I worked at it and what I tried to do.”
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s job seems safe, too.
Jones hasn’t even hinted at being upset with his play-calling,
even though most fans are. They see Garrett using all sorts of
formations to try tricking defenses instead of getting really good
at a few plays and daring defenses to stop them.
Part of his approach is spreading the ball among a lot of
talented offensive players – or, at least, guys billed as
The offense, however, has scored just one touchdown in each
game. Tony Romo has made some pinpoint throws while blowing others
that are usually routine for him.
If Jones is going to suggest anything to anyone, he’d probably
tell Garrett to use Felix Jones more. However, Jones gained only 7
yards on seven carries last week.
Then there’s Buehler.
Jones was counting on last year’s dandy of a kickoff guy to make
field goals, too, but he’s missed game-tying attempts in both
games. He wasn’t even close on a 44-yarder that would’ve made it
20-all midway through the fourth quarter Sunday against the
”My intuition is to be real patient there,” Jones said.
Jones could sign a veteran, but, as Phillips noted, there’s a
reason any veteran is unemployed right now. The Cowboys also don’t
want to give up too soon on Buehler after seeing what’s happened to
their last kicker, Nick Folk.
He is 5 of 5 for the Jets, having hit a 48-yarder in the opener
and a 49-yarder this past Sunday. It’s becoming obvious an injury
was behind his struggles last season.
Jones wishes Dallas’ problems this season were as easy to
AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins contributed to this report.