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/