Jerry Jones touched all the bases Wednesday in his state-of-the-team address to open Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, Calif. But it was head coach Jason Garrett who shared the oddest bit of information.
He apparently spent significant time on the phone recently with women’s tennis champion Billie Jean King. Garrett raised his voice an octave as he related the conversation that took place a couple weeks ago. It was just one of several surreal moments Wednesday, including the one when Jerry dropped the word "fungible" in describing the Cowboys’ approach to possibly re-signing players such as Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith and DeMarco Murray.
The news conference started on a somber note as Jones talked about the death of former Cowboys fullback Robert Newhouse. He also became emotional while discussing Wednesday’s news from Denver that longtime Broncos owner Pat Bowlen was stepping down because he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Bowlen has been a powerful voice in the league for many years and he and Jones have enjoyed a strong friendship.
The biggest news regarding this year’s team was Jones talking about Garrett’s job status. Everyone believes Garrett will begin the season on the hot seat because of three straight .500 seasons and the fact that he’s entering the final year of his contract. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Garrett returns if the Cowboys once again fail to make the playoffs.
"In terms of the record, this is not a make or break season for Jason," Jones said.
In the past, Jones has talked about wanting to make his employees feel uncomfortable after missing the playoffs. But it’s really not in his nature. He didn’t want to set a negative tone at the start of training camp, so he focused on the wonderful relationship he has with Garrett. I always wonder what Garrett thinks of that relationship.
On Wednesday, the Cowboys head coach provided a perfectly reasonable answer to a question about former backup quarterback Kyle Orton. Garrett basically said the two sides parted on good terms. Jones would’ve been wise not to add anything to Garrett’s response, but he couldn’t stand it. He gave a thoroughly confusing explanation as to why the Cowboys finally decided to release Orton. I think he was trying to say the Cowboys wanted to see if they could find a trading partner for the backup quarterback. This came on the heels of Garrett citing some type of family issue that Orton had that caused him to skip both voluntary and mandatory workouts this past offseason.
There’s something a little embarrassing about Garrett referring to Jerry as "Mr. Jones." It sort of reinforces the perception that Garrett doesn’t have much power in the organization. Garrett talked about how he believes the Cowboys’ defense can improve after losing some "marquee" names. Jones followed by saying the Cowboys’ defense is now better "on paper" than it was heading into the final game of the 2014 season.
Jones ended Wednesday’s session by saying the Cowboys were open to the idea of defensive tackle Josh Brent returning to the team. He didn’t promise anything, but he indicated that he’d been in contact with the former Cowboys player.
Overall, Jones was as entertaining as ever. And his head coach played the role of backup just like he did in his playing days.