Jerry Jones has true grit.
It takes real patience waiting on his Cowboys to turn the corner.
But his well of patience may have finally run dry.
This time next year Jones will likely have a new head coach and Wade Phillips will be ridin’ fence somewhere in the NFL. Tony Romo will keep his spurs but face the task of winning back in competition the NFL’s marquee quarterback job.
There’s no one, unique character trait that defines a championship skipper. The personalities run the gamut from intimidators (Knight / Hayes) to innovators (Brown / Stram), from stoic (Dungy / Grant) to spirited (McGuire / Guillen).
Son of Texas legend Bum Phillips, Wade’s got football in his blood. As range boss for America’s Team he’s riding point for his fifth crew, the pinnacle post for NFL gurus.
The Dallas coach certainly has the football knowledge needed to win an NFL title. But when a team underachieves for too long an owner will start to think about the intangibles.
Friendlies and pre-season prognosticators believe Wade’s job was secured in last seasons first round playoff win over a tame Eagles team. They say he has nothing to prove.
I say, hold on pardner, not so fast.
In a Total Access interview with Jones (aired 7/23), the Cowboys’ owner was asked what he expected from his team in the upcoming season. Careful to avoid setting the Super Bowl standard he was brief but clear: “do more” and “advance.”
If I read him right, that would mean Phillips needs to make the playoffs and win at least two contests: either wild-card and divisional or divisional and NFC title games.
But here are three reasons why these cowpokes won’t meet Jerry’s expectations and it‘ll be happy trails for Wade come next February:
1) Minnesota Meltdown:
Dallas didn’t just lose to Minnesota last January, they got a shellacking (34-3). And the lop-sided score wasn’t the worst part. The failure to re-group after their first long drive fizzled (missed FG), coupled with tepid 4th quarter play casts doubt on the Cowboys’ resiliency.
2) Laredo City, NFC:
The streets of the NFC are teaming with tough hombres. Vikings join Saints in the top-tier while scoring-punch brings Cowboys & Packers close. Giants, Bears and Falcons are poised to rebound while solid QB-play can make 49ers, Eagles, Redskins and Cardinals all viable.
3) Inspiration Intangible:
They say patience is a virtue. But no one ever got rich or hoisted Mr. Lombardi by being noble (though it’s fair to say potty-mouth never brought-home-the-hardware either, Rex Ryan). Jerry, like his late friend George Steinbrenner, isn’t one to wait on success. With all that talent in Big D, Wade and Tony have yet to inspire the Cowboys to play to their potential for an entire season. “Talent’s important but it’s how you handle the pressure” (Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews).
And the Boys’ sluggish pre-season? Not a factor. Though the NFL charges admission, only a school-boy gets worked-up over “practice.” PS isn’t about wins & loses, it’s about staying healthy, making tough roster decisions and creating rapport through trial & error.
I don’t know if rookie Dez Bryant’s recent pooh-pooh of Roy Williams’ pants was an act of 60s rebellion or 90s arrogance but you can bet Jerry Jones likes the confidence.
If Wade can prod his saucy players to channel their bravado into victories, get LB Keith Brooking to focus on stopping late TDs rather than grousing about ‘em (Minnesota) and then place a bur under Romo‘s saddle this team could be in the big hoedown come February.
But that’s all pie in the sky, or as Lone Star Lyndon would‘ve said: That dog won’t hunt.
About the Author
Written by Steven Keys
A native of the old Northwest Territory (IL), my wife and I have lived in four Midwestern states and Arizona. Today we live in Duluth, Georgia. I have a history / legal background.