Cowboys VP: We’ve got the ‘secret sauce’ to win again

Now we know it runs in the family. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has always been the director of hyperbole at Valley Ranch, but son Stephen got his feet wet Tuesday.

He was responding to an innocent question about whether his father still hears all the criticism. Jerry has developed some incredibly thick skin over the past 24 years, but every now and then he’ll flash some anger toward a reporter (like when I wrote about empty seats two years ago). But Stephen took his answer in an unexpected direction.

“I think it motivates him,” Stephen said of the criticism. “Obviously, we feel like we have a great organization in the Cowboys but we can always be better. We look for ways to be better. We do that both on the field and off the field. We’re convinced we’ve got the ‘secret sauce’ to put this thing back together again and win championships.”

Cue the laugh track. How does a high-level executive coming off back to back .500 seasons make such a ludicrous statement? This is a team that has major questions on the offensive and defensive lines. Starting defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (hamstring, groin) could end up missing the first six weeks of the season. They are basically holding open tryouts for the starting right guard spot.

It seemed like the Cowboys were doing a good job avoiding the hype machine heading into this season. But this “secret sauce” line from Stephen could have staying power. You might recall Vince Young calling the Eagles the “Dream Team” a couple seasons ago. That was thrown back in their faces constantly as they had a horrible season.

The Cowboys have a legitimate shot in the NFC East, in part because the other three teams also have huge questions. But there’s absolutely no reason for the Cowboys to suddenly be smug about their chances. A team that has two playoff wins since winning Super Bowl XXX in 1995 shouldn’t act like it has anything figured out. Maybe Stephen’s feeling emboldened in the aftermath of a new naming rights deal for the stadium and a new practice facility in Frisco. But those business deals aren’t going to lead to any playoff wins. Stephen indicated Tuesday this team’s no longer going to be average.

“Our commitment when we started was no more 8-8s,” he said. “I think we’ve got good personnel. I think we’ve got a great staff. I think we can do that. We need to stay healthy. We need to stay focused. We need to get better every day. And I think we’ll be better than 8-8.”

For now, though, Stephen would be wise to hold the “special sauce.” He stepped in the same sort of trap that used to give his father problems.

And it wasn’t even a great trap.