It’s the defense, not the quarterback.But so heavily is this Dallas Cowboys franchise invested in its $119 million quarterback, it’s easy to see why owner Jerry Jones was willing to downplay the scoreboard Sunday in favor of gaudy numbers from Tony Romo.A 51-48 “moral victory?” How is that supposed to make the defense feel?While so much of the hand-wringing this week has been focused upon Romo and his game-blowing interception, Cowboys fans and their owner are missing the point if they’re not aghast at the way opposing quarterbacks have moved up and down the field these past two weeks. In three of the season’s five games, enemy quarterbacks have passed for more than 400 yards. The Manning family alone has thrown for 864 yards and eight touchdowns against the Cowboys. But Owner Jones can’t help himself. When the media corners him in the postgame locker room, Jerry tries to speak from the heart — and his restraint often seems to glaze over.“I am so proud of our team,” Jones said Sunday. “I’m so proud of Romo. He basically substantiated any and everything on my personal chart that I ever thought about today.”Yet, as Jerry was saying that, there were probably 40,000 or so customers who were dog-cussing Romo on the drive home. What the public sees on the postgame show is usually Jones’ attempts at measured responses to a broad and random sequence of media questions. But this isn’t a Charlie Rose one-on-one interview. Surrounded by reporters, some of them national football writers who don’t get a chance to pick at Jones’ weekly low-hanging fruit, Jerry is likely to be asked about game strategy one minute and the site of Super Bowl LII the next.He tries to be polite and answer every query. But you’ve heard him — he can’t help himself.That seemed to be the case Sunday as, in rehashing the game, Jerry apparently decided that 51-48 aside, he was going to take something positive home. So he proclaimed a moral triumph based upon Romo’s mostly dazzling performance.As usual, just follow the money. Owner Jones dearly wants the football world to believe he was right to make Tony Romo — winner of one postseason game since high school (feel free to Google it) — the highest-paid player in Dallas Cowboys history.Some agree. Many disagree. The game — and its sour ending — are a lot like Tony’s career, someone pointed out to Jerry.“They will [say that] until he wins the Super Bowl,” Jones said. “The guy standing over on the other sideline or up in the box, John Elway, had those things said about him his entire career. He was a great player and we all know that, and he ultimately got his Super Bowls and they don’t say that about him anymore. “I’m not trying to be trite. [Romo] has been the last several years our best chance to win big, and he showed it today. He did have the one turnover, but those games like he had today can overcome the one turnover, if we don’t do it right at the end of the ballgame.”Oh, Jerry. Romo will never be Elway. And that last paragraph pretty much sums up what Jones has gotten so far from his seven-year, $119.5 million investment.Jones turns 71 years old Sunday, which probably means Romo has a lifetime contract. Jerry’s life, not Romo’s.It’s the defense, not the quarterback. But Jerry often has trouble separating his heart from his wallet. There’s really no harm in proclaiming a moral victory after a 51-48 defeat.Owner Jones just has to make sure he keeps the car windows closed on the drive home.
Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton