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The "J" factor: Is Jerry Jones toxic to the future of the Dallas Cowboys?

The Dallas Cowboys are debatably the most talked about NFL team in the league; and not in a good way. “America’s Team” has quickly become one of the biggest enigmas in the National Football League.

Can Jones dig himself out of this grave?
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Why have the Cowboys not made a playoff appearance since 2009? Why have so many head coaches taken a knee instead of hoping and praying they don’t get fired like most NFL coaches? Why aren’t changes happening within the franchise to improve this football team? There is only one common denominator since 1989, Jerry Jones. The solution seems like a no-brainer for outsiders; hire a GM. However to the grandiose Jones, he is omniscient and has it under control…or does he?

H.R Bright sold the Cowboys to Jones in 1989 during which Jones hired head coach Jimmy Johnson. Johnson not only led the Cowboys to, not one, but two Super Bowls, he had an eye for talent when it came to drafting players. Jerry came into this position with no experience, and for a hot minute, allowed Johnson complete control over drafting, player relations etc. Aikman anyone? That ended once Jerry realized he was holding the best team in the league in the palm of his hand; and it has been a downward spiral ever since. Johnson, who was Jones’ friend and teammate at The University of Arkansas, finally got fed up and worn out in 1993; by the constant butting of heads between him and Jerry over player personnel decisions. In turn, one of the best, if not THE best, head coaches the Cowboys have ever had, threw in the towel.

Then, in comes Barry Switzer who also led the ‘Boys to a Super Bowl win then resigns after only 3 seasons. Why would two incredible coaches, both with Super Bowl rings at the top of their career decide to leave? Are we seeing a pattern here?

Let’s fast forward to 2003. Five seasons, no rings; something has to be done right? So Jones decides to talk Bill Parcells into coming out of retirement to become Dallas’ new head coach. Parcells obliges Jerry and ONCE again only lasted 3 seasons before droppin’ the mic. Wade Phillips replaces Parcells then ends up being the only head coach in Cowboys history to get fired mid season; and so begins the Garrett era.

Any NFL team owner knows, even after just two playoff-less seasons, something needs to change. People can blame this season on Monte Kiffin, the defensive coordinator who led the Cowboys to have the worst defense in the NFL, allowing a total of 6,645 yards; however the reasons for yet another year with no post-season is deeper than just the DC. Injuries took a toll on the ‘Boys this year with Sean Lee being out; but Kiffin did what he could with what little he had. Romo has also taken heat for the losses but he does put up numbers and numbers don’t lie. Is he elite? No; but he is a good quarterback that, with the right tools, could do great things with the Cowboys. Jason Garrett is also obviously at the center of this blame game. According to Forbes, (http://www.forbes.com/sites/rogergroves/2013/12/30/why-nfl-coaches-get-fired/) There are two reasons why coaches get fired. First, the quarterback doesn’t succeed; and second, the team has not made the playoffs for two consecutive seasons. Both of which the Cowboys can check off. So what in the world is going on here?

Wouldn't someone so obsessed with power want a leg to stand on? Well, judging by the decisions, or lack thereof, by Jones; the answer is no. An egotistical man with a God complex finally has a staff he can control. Although a Super Bowl would be nice, many believe having control is more important to Mr. Jones. Yes, there are coach’s contracts that are guaranteed; but there is nothing preventing Jones to hire a GM to separate player decisions and monetary decisions. It makes people wonder, does Jerry really even care about the reputation of the Cowboys or the future of this franchise? This is an ominous thought. However the most bewildering fact of the matter; the Cowboys are STILL the most expensive team in the NFL. To be a fly on the wall in Cowboys corporate board meetings…

Garrett is doing what he can with what he has; that must be tough having absolutely NO say in anything. This is why, as long as Belichick and Kraft are there, the New England Patriots will never be in the turmoil the Cowboys are right now. Kraft recognizes Belichick’s talent and although they will talk over decisions, Kraft lets Belicheck do his thing because he trusts him. Jones wouldn't even let his friend of many years, who won him two Super Bowls and drafted arguably one of the best quarterbacks of all time, take the reigns.

It all circles back to drafting the right players and having a back up plan in which Jones knows nothing about. Has Jones’ narcissism and constant need for control getting OUT of control. Does Jerry Jones care more about being “Jerry Jones”? The consensus within Cowboys fans is yes; with expletives more than likely to follow. Or is it the simple fact Jerry Jones can’t admit he made multiple mistakes?

All in all the Cowboys will never even be a playoff contender unless Jones decides to take it down a notch and hire a GM. Regardless of player trades, coaching changes etc; if Jones is still playing GM, Cowboys fans better hurry up on jump on that Broncos bandwagon!

Katie Thulin