Friday, May 9, 2014

Passing on Johnny Manziel Was a Positive Moment For Jerry Jones, But Doesn’t Mean Culture Has Changed in Dallas

The post-selection depression was staggering.  Almost more so than the actual selection.

After falling into the Cowboys’ laps like everyone had dreamed but dared hardly hope, Jerry Jones up and pulled the rug out from under everyone’s feet, selecting offensive guard Zack Martin out of Notre Dame instead of the beloved quarterback Johnny Manziel.  As you can imagine, record-high ratings hit the floor in an instant as parties were canceled and frivolity rendered mute.

But as clearer heads prevail and full consciousness returns, the world is left wondering at Martin.  Or, rather Jerry.

What came over team owner Jerry Jones to convince him to take an offensive lineman when it was so obviously unexpected? 

A safety?  Yes. 

Defensive end?  Yes. 

Johnny Football?  Millions of anxious fans sure hoped so.

But offensive lineman?  Really?

It has been the favorite topic of discussion on this good Friday to discern whether or not Jerry in fact is turning over a new leaf in his duties.  In hindsight, the selection of Martin did address the one weakness of a surprisingly stable Cowboy offensive line from a year ago: guard.  Martin was the highest-rated player left on Dallas’ draft board and is every bit of a quality pick.

Does that in fact make Mr. Jones a quality General Manager of a sudden?

Let’s hold off on that declaration, at least for a few more days.  25 years and counting of mishaps is not erased merely by one surprisingly good draft-day brain wave.  Jerry might just as easily turn around and select another quarterback today, and bring about the Manziel discussion all over again.

It can not be said for certain at this juncture what the owner’s thought process was last night.  Was he out to get simply the best player because of value, or was it stubborn faith that his shell-shocked defense, healthy at this moment, would transform themselves come September with many of the same faces from a year ago?

As erratic as the Cowboys’ drafts have been the past twenty years, these are important questions that will be answered over the next two days.  Not that positive developments will make Jerry a hero, but will at least give his audience something relevant to pat him on the back for.
You can read more about the Dallas Cowboys and their struggle with recent drafts in Ryan Bush's new book about Jerry Jones and The Worst Decade in Dallas Cowboys' History, "Decade of Futility." Use the following link to purchase your copy today:https://www.createspace.com/4161551

Dallas Cowboys Selection of Boise State DE Demarcus Lawrence Continues Defensive Theme in Second Round

Since the year 2000, the Dallas Cowboys have drafted a defensive player in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft eight times out of a possible thirteen chances.  Their latest selection, Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, will join former college teammate Tyrone Crawford in Dallas’ revamped front four.
You can read more about the Dallas Cowboys and their struggle with recent drafts in Ryan Bush's new book about Jerry Jones and The Worst Decade in Dallas Cowboys' History, "Decade of Futility."  Use the following link to purchase your copy today:https://www.createspace.com/4161551

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Prospect of Landing Johnny Manziel Adds Intrigue For Dallas Cowboys, Pressure for Jerry Jones

We have asked.  Jerry has answered.

We have implored.  Jerry has declined.

We say maybe.  Jerry says never.

It’s been a good long while since there has been this much unity from Jerry’s bleachers over a prospect in the weeks leading up to the draft.  Too long.  But that’s what happens when you have only won one playoff game in nearly two decades.  Apathy becomes a local custom rather than a personal reaction.

The NFL draft hasn’t meant much to Cowboy Nation for many moons now because they have found little constructive activity in their team’s war room.  This year is different, though.  Because this year Johnny Football is calling it quits in College Station to join the big boys of the professional ranks, where money and legend can proliferate freely.

Johnny Football is a Texas gunslinger who would’ve made Slingin’ Sammy proud with his rocket arm, dare-devil attitude, and knack for the spotlight.  In two years at Texas A&M, all Johnny Manziel did was win a Heisman Trophy as a freshman, knock off mighty Alabama, and almost single-handedly put the Aggies in the national title conversation.

So accomplished is he that millions have taken hold of the thought that, “Maybe Johnny can fix the Cowboys.”

The Cowboys, as we all know by now, are in the deplorable habit of winning half of their games, losing the other half, and going home for the winter in a thoroughly confused state of emotions.

The franchise quarterback, 34-year old Tony Romo, is overpaid, likely overweight at this date, and some claim overwhelmingly overhyped.  His teammates all spend their off-season talking about the need to improve.  The owner, speaking for all, claims infinite satisfaction.

The football crazed town of Dallas knoweth no peace, for the team they are sworn to does not compute.  Nor compete.

The fans know this isn’t acceptable, so have offered their remedy, hoping that team owner Jerry Jones is thinking along those same lines.  As of yesterday, Jones claims he is not, citing an over-abundance at the quarterback position and a need to win now.

Remember, the topic of quarterbacks is a sensitive one around Valley Ranch right now, and with good reason.  The reality is that Jones has yet to find a quarterback in the draft during his 25 years on the job, and he doesn’t need any reminders on that front.

Jones has always claimed he learned a hard, but valuable, lesson when he watched Troy Aikman slide into retirement in 2001 due to complications from a bad back and a rash of concussions.  He blamed himself for not having a capable replacement waiting in the wings, ready to stand up when Aikman did finally go down, and considered himself at fault for going nearly six full seasons before another franchise quarterback happened along.  Jones says he’s aware more than ever how important the position is in today’s game.

Thursday is his chance to prove as much.

Right now there are only two quarterbacking carcasses behind Romo on the depth chart, moldy fossils of past failures who are simply hanging onto the league’s skirts for employment.  Brandon Weeden is a 31-year old with two years of experience in dog-eared Cleveland where he became, according to multiple reports, emotionally scarred for life.  Well, cheer up, Brandon.  You wouldn’t be the first.

Reserve signal-caller Caleb Hanie had a similar experience with Chicago.

The backup Jones wanted – Kyle Orton – hasn’t showed his face around the Ranch during the team’s optional workouts this spring, and word has it that Orton is currently leaning towards retirement.  That’s not the news that Jones should be fine with hearing, especially considering that his 34-year old starter is coming off his second back procedure in the space of a calendar year.

But Jones doesn’t appear concerned with this in the least and appears fully prepared to place his trust in his overwhelmed pair of reserves and Romo’s improving health.  Jones can’t be blamed for trying to stick with Romo.  He just needs to be aware of the danger of shoving all his chips that way.  Age at the quarterback position isn’t a problem until decay starts to set in.

And you can be certain that somebody at Valley Ranch has made him cognizant of what a financial boon it would be to select Manziel (yes, money is a big thing with Jerry).  According to the latest statistics, Jerry’s house of 100-dollar bills could use a serious upgrade, as poor production on Sundays has boosted inflation and caused the Cowboys to fall behind the competition.

Of the top selling individual players jerseys from the 2013 season, wide receiver Dez Bryant is the top Cowboy, checking in at No. 13.  Tight end Jason Witten was No. 17.  The quarterback of America’s Team could be found well down the list at No. 23.  Eleven quarterbacks ranked ahead of Romo, including public punching bags Ryan Tannehill and Eli Manning.

The Cowboys ranked fourth overall in team merchandise sales, behind Seattle, Denver, and San Francisco.

Selecting Manziel would be an instant boost in revenue, with jerseys and tickets flying off the shelf.  Yes, Jerry would likely sell out both of his preseason games this coming August, too.

A stable franchise could afford to take Manziel with the sixteenth selection.  Alas, that is not a state the Cowboys have enjoyed since Bill Parcells’ scowl was seen on the Dallas sideline.

A rebuilding franchise could do the same.

The Cowboys, unfortunately, fall somewhere in between at this juncture in time.  Without the luxury of either a winning or losing season to direct Jerry’s off-season agenda, the Cowboys have never lacked an identity more than in 2014.

The head coach preaches balance but stands helpless as Jerry’s system of quarterback-offensive coordinator autonomy enacts a pass-first circus that, more often than not, winds up in disaster.  The defense was non-existent a year ago, and certainly hasn’t improved on paper as of yet.

It would seem unfair to want to put Johnny Football in that kind of a situation, if it weren’t for the fact that Manziel dealt with a lot of those same problems at A&M.  Manziel threw the ball all over the yard in college, and had to outscore a gutless defense on most weekends, so probably isn’t going to be overwhelmed at being asked to score points in Dallas, too.

Jerry, on the other hand, is overwhelmed, and will probably be more so than ever by Thursday, according to past Cowboy drafts.  Maybe the prospect of having to choose Manziel will provide a rare moment of clarity from the Valley Ranch war room.

For over-expectant fans of the silver and blue, this one possibility is their one hope for the future.  And without it coming to fruition, the Monday morning commute will certainly be a drab experience when it dawns upon them that they will never have a Johnny, but will always have a Jerry.
You can read more about Jerry Jones' Draft-Day struggles in Ryan Bush's new book about The Worst Decade in Dallas Cowboys' History, "Decade of Futility."  Use the following link to purchase your copy today:https://www.createspace.com/

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Julius Jones Was Lone Star For Dallas Cowboys During 2004 Season

Running back Julius Jones was the lone offensive star for the Dallas Cowboys in 2004. A promising rookie out of Notre Dame, Jones was slotted to share the backfield duties with veteran Eddie George on a team that looked to pound opponents into submission in the rough and tumble NFC East.
But when Jones broke a collarbone during a Week 2 game against Cleveland, everything seemed to change. By the time Jones returned from his injury, the Cowboys were limping along with a 3-5 record and a miserable head coach growling louder and louder with each mistake. And though Jones rushed for 817 yards during the season’s second half, including a 198-yard effort in a Monday night win at Seattle, the Cowboys concluded the 2004 campaign with another frustrating 3-5 mark.
It was Bill Parcells’ only losing season while in Dallas, and it helped convince the head coach of what he thought he already knew. The Cowboys were blessed with a keeper at running back, and a Texas-sized mess besides.


 Read about Parcells’ struggles with the 2004 Cowboys in Ryan Bush's new book about The Worst Decade in Dallas Cowboys history “Decade of Futility.”  Use the following link to purchase your copy today:https://www.createspace.com/4161551

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Valuable Was Steve Hoffman? Just Ask The 2005 Dallas Cowboys

What did former special teams coach Steve Hoffman have to do with the Dallas Cowboys' struggles of the 2005 season? A lot more than you might think. 
Read about it in Ryan Bush's new book about The Worst Decade in Dallas Cowboys history "Decade of Futility."

Use the following link to purchase your copy today:https://www.createspace.com/4161551

Monday, April 14, 2014

Management, Talent Evaluation Key Suspects in Dallas Cowboys' Dismissal of QB Anthony Wright

In writing the book "Decade of Futility," I spent an entire chapter dealing strictly with Jerry Jones' quarterback carousel of 2001, paying close attention to the Quincy Carter and Clint Stoerner sagas.  What has gone unnoticed therein is that I ultimately edited out an additional story to this heavily stacked segment.  To include it would only show how poor the management and talent evaluation was for the Cowboys in those days, which had already been heavily inferred by the chapter anyway.  So in order not to get bogged down and be redundant, I left it out.
But that doesn't mean it isn't compelling, nor of consequence.  Because it is.
The story centers around reserve quarterback Anthony Wright and a knee injury suffered during Dallas' Week 5 victory over Washington on Monday Night Football.  The game, typical of the times, was a snoozer, the Cowboys nipping the Redskins 9-7 on a last-second field goal by Tim Seder.
And while ABC was bemoaning lackluster ratings and heavy criticism of color commentator Dennis Miller, Jerry Jones was riding a rare emotional high after seeing his team grab their first win of the season, telling reporters afterwards, “I got a little of that Super Bowl feeling again.”
Jones’ mood suffered a severe drop-off over the next 24 hours as team doctors broke the news: Wright’s knee was damaged to the point that, while he technically could still suit up and play on Sundays, it would be far safer if Wright were to immediately undergo surgery to repair it.
There was no secret about the fact that the Cowboys wanted Wright to put off surgery and continue standing in for the injured Quincy Carter, until Carter was healthy enough to re-take the field in early December.
Wright, on the other hand, wanted to protect his career’s longevity, and never thought twice about his decision to go under the knife, thus ending his season.
As a consequence, the Cowboys soured on Wright, cutting ties altogether with the four-year pro the following August.  Their reasoning was simple enough: coaches and certain team officials didn’t think Wright cared enough about football, which, ironically enough, was the exact same reason they opted to cut Tony Banks before him.
But did Jerry Jones really need a banged-up Anthony Wright as his quarterback?  Should he really have been Jones’ preference at that juncture?
Ultimately, the organization put their foot down with Wright; either suck it up, or else….
The timing for such hard-ball management is particularly odd.  Wright was no star in the making.  He had entered the 2001 season as the No. 3 quarterback and, after roughly 14 quarters of action over the season’s first five weeks, Wright had done his “backup” label justice.
He could throw for three touchdowns the first half, and three interceptions in the second.  He could throw for 180 yards one week, and only 80 the next.
He was a better passer than Carter, but relied heavily upon his legs to get him out of trouble when the pocket collapsed, which it was wont to do quite often that season.
And now, with a bum knee and severely limited mobility, it is a wonder the Cowboys could envision that version of Wright being as, or more, effective than Clint Stoerner.  Wright’s ability to scramble, one could argue, was the only thing that offensive coordinator Jack Reilly had learned to trust.  Trailing Oakland 28-21 during their Week 4 contest and facing a fourth-and-1 with less than two minutes remaining, Reilly didn’t call for an off-tackle run by Emmitt Smith, or even a quick slant pattern to Joey Galloway.  He, instead, opted for a quarterback draw with Wright.
The result (Wright was stopped short of the line to gain) is of no consequence when compared to the philosophy.  The offense really had only one thing working for them when Wright was under center: his mobility.
But with that vanished in the wreckage of an unfortunate injury against Washington, what were the Cowboys expecting to place their faith in for the next game?

You can read more about the Dallas Cowboys' crazy 2001 season in Ryan Bush's new book about The Worst Decade in Dallas Cowboys history "Decade of Futility."  Use the following link to order your copy today:https://www.createspace.com/4161551

Sunday, April 13, 2014

For Jerry Jones, Parting Ways With Tony Banks Proved To Be Start of Trouble For 2001 Dallas Cowboys

Quarterbacks were in abundance on the Valley Ranch lawn during the 2001 campaign. The legendary Troy Aikman had retired in April, and team owner Jerry Jones was busy orchestrating a merry game of musical chairs in searching for a suitable ...replacement.
Cowboy enthusiasts remember the scene well, their beloved franchise owning five different starting signal callers from August to November, the once fabled "America's Team" looking strangely akin to a minor league baseball team searching desperately for a reliable arm out of the bullpen.
Tony Banks, Quincy Carter, Anthony Wright, Clint Stoerner, and Ryan Leaf each found their respective names at the top of the depth chart at some point during the season, a 5-11 marathon that seemed to accomplish more damage than good.
The unquestioned starter coming out of mini-camps, the sixth-year veteran Banks was inexplicably cut early in preseason by an owner who seemed determined to reach the 10-win threshold he had so outrageously predicted months before with the raw talent of Carter, a wide-eyed rookie from Georgia. While Jerry was busy touting excitement and a brighter future as the primary causes for such a bold move, fans and sportswriters could only shake their head in bewilderment. They didn't understand Jones using a second-round pick on Carter in the April draft, and they surely couldn't see why Banks should be ditched while his replacement had yet to even learn the proper grip of a professional size football.
Without a doubt, it was a decision that destroyed the season before it ever started, the Cowboys' once-aspiring offense destined for NFL ineptitude.

Read more about "The Quarterback Carousel" in Chapter 5 of Ryan Bush's new book about The Worst Decade in Dallas Cowboys history "Decade of Futility." Use the following link to purchase your copy today:https://www.createspace.com/4161551