Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones looked good sitting in a plush leather recliner on his shiny new $2 million bus outside the Marriott Hotel.
And he feels good about the coaching and philosophical changes made since the Cowboys’ season-ending loss at Washington, resulting in a second consecutive 8-8 season and third straight year out of the playoffs.
But don’t describe Jones or the current state of the Cowboys, who have one playoff win and a bad-to-middling record over the last 15 years, as comfortable.
Jones said the Cowboys are “in a rut that is akin to lying dead in a coffin.”
While he remains confident in coach Jason Garrett and hopeful that things will improve in 2013, the coach is on notice that Jones’ patience has run out and the time to win is now.
“I think we have changed,” Jones said. “I’m positive and I feel good we have changed. I feel good where this thing sits right now. I’m not in a good mood. I’m not in a bad mood, but I’m sure not up here celebrating.
“This thing has been a big disappointment the last couple of years. I’m not satisfied. We’ve got to start knocking on the door. So there is a lot of resolve and not a lot of patience, and Jason knows that.”
The changes that Jones feels good about are the overhauling of the coaching staff and the shift in philosophy on defense from the 3-4 under fired coordinator Rob Ryan to the 4-3 under new coordinator Monte Kiffin.
Although he acknowledged ushering in a climate of change with his comments in January about being angry and disappointed with the Cowboys’ season and promising an uncomfortable atmosphere at the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters, Jones wanted it known that it was Garrett, not him, who made the coaching hires.
The Cowboys added six new staffers, and Jones said he sat in two interviews for roughly 30 combined minutes.
Jones acknowledged that offensive line coach Bill Callahan will have a larger role in the offense next year but made it clear that Garrett will decide who calls plays, and that decision hasn’t been made yet.
He was adamant that he never asked Garrett to stop calling plays. The only thing he did to impact a possible change in that area is that he told Garrett it was no longer a requirement for him that his head coach called the plays as had been the case in the past.
“What I have done during this off-season is that it’s no longer a prerequisite or no longer a preference of mine for [Garrett] to call the plays,” Jones said. “… As I sit here right today, there has not been a finality to just exactly how we will have a play called on the field. I would be happy either way he wants to go. When I say happy, I don’t want to go 8-8.”
Jones, however, admitted that any changes the Cowboys make because of their lack of success since their last Super Bowl title in 1995 will only go so far.
There is no chance he even considers removing himself as general manager, a title he has held since buying the team on Feb. 25, 1989.
Jones understands questions and criticism from fans about the team’s struggles of late. He says will just continue trying to get it right, but he reiterated he is not going anywhere and will be ready to accept the praise when the Cowboys finally get it done.
“I pretty much go with what I did the night I bought the team,” Jones said. “I said I was going to be the GM. … It would be a facade if someone else was sitting in my shoes and someone thought they were spending the money. It would be deception. … I would grant you the decisions that have been made over the years have not produced a Super Bowl, two Super Bowls or three Super Bowls that I would like to have been a part of. And the only thing I am going to do there is keep trying and then make sure I get the credit when we do get that one. Y’all are going to give it to me, aren’t you?”
Jones then smiled, uncomfortably.