OK, guys. That’s a wrap. Shut down the football body. Give it a rest for a month, have some fun and we’ll see you again in mid-July in Oxnard, Calif.
The long and very eventful NFL off-season for the Dallas Cowboys came to a close Thursday after three minicamp days at Valley Ranch.
No one can disagree that, over the last six months, things have changed dramatically for the Cowboys.
No doubt, change was needed. Mr. Jerry Himself came right out in January and declared, by gawd, change was definitely coming. And he delivered.
But was it change for the better?
It depends on your point of view, of course. Me? I can see what appears to be change for the better. But some rate as flat stupid. And in other areas, it’s flat scary.
What follows are the eight — I said eight — most significant off-season developments for the Cowboys.
Why eight? That’s the win ceiling this team has established under Jason Garrett.
And away we go:
The quarterback who threw three picks to close out last season was rewarded for that miserable, no-excuse performance by being promoted to Mr. Jerry’s right-hand man and financial love child.
Tony Romo is the most blessed human being in the world. Not just football. The world. From maybe his lowest moment ever on the field, Tony accented into a role of assistant owner and offensive power broker.
From the $108 million new contract to now having final say on play-calling decision making, well...
For a quarterback whose decision-making has been repeatedly questioned for years, Romo’s off-season fantasy trip ranks as the NFL’s most amazing story of 2013, post-Joe Flacco in the Super Bowl.
Flacco, of course, won a world championship.
Only at Valley Ranch.
•Change No. 2:
The assistant coach in charge of maybe the most failed area of 2012 (offensive line) received the most prominent staff promotion of the off-season.
Bill Callahan is now the offensive play-caller, replacing Garrett in that role. This move did not happen without Romo either wanting it to happen or ordering it to happen.
Callahan’s promotion, based on the dismal state of his O-line in 2012, is a distant second to Romo’s when it comes to that freaky category known as “only at Valley Ranch.” But it’s at least in the same zip code.
•Change No. 3:
This one involves Mr. Jerry himself. Don’t ever again think (I’ve admittedly been guilty of this at times) that at some point Jerry will back off and allow football people to be in charge of football.
This was an off-season when Jerry became more dug in, more stubborn than ever in showing one and all he will go down the same way Al Davis eventually went down in Oakland, as the almighty football god of Valley Ranch.
Sorry, Jerry, that I ever doubted you on this. I have officially changed my thinking.
•Change No. 4:
The complete overhaul on the defensive side, including a change to the 4-3, something Jerry said would never happen, was a positive step.
The hirings of old-timers Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli to run the defense has Valley Ranch insiders legitimately excited, based on what’s been observed in OTAs and the minicamp.
I don’t know how much to blame Rob Ryan for the last two seasons. But we all know his defense was a disorganized mess.
Then Sean Payton went and hired Rob in New Orleans as his defensive coordinator. Sean, you confused me on that one.
But I’m with Jerry on this change.
•Change No. 5:
Jason Garrett became the head coach in charge of everything, and to me, that’s a promotion.
Coach the dang team. Not just the offense.
Again, I’m with Jerry on this change.
•Change No. 6:
Perception-wise, Garrett lost plenty of power this off-season. Jerry appeared to geld him.
It is NEVER a good thing at Valley Ranch when the head coach loses power. This has been a constant Jerry pattern with head coaches over the last two decades.
Perception, Garrett told us last week, is something he doesn’t care about. Big mistake, Jason, in saying that.
But granted, this power-loss perception is mainly confined to the media and a segment of fans. You don’t hear it at Valley Ranch, at least in the most important area at Valley Ranch.
Does Red J still have the respect of the players? By all accounts, he continued to hold the locker room. Hopefully, that’s true. Media and fans don’t matter. The locker room really matters.
•Change No. 7:
Dez Bryant has gone from dust-ups with mall cops, overpaying and not paying for jewelry, fighting with his momma, not knowing the playbook, grandstanding on the sidelines, to...
Talk about a change. Obviously, let’s not get too carried away just yet, but in what was considered a critical off-season for Dez in the maturing process — both as a player and a young man — he’s graded out A-plus so far.
Dez is even tutoring rookie receiver Terrance Williams this summer, and was reportedly included in a road trip to San Antonio to see Game 4 of the NBA Finals with DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten and Miles Austin, three of the best human beings on the team.
Now this, friends, is a change. But again, let it play out.
•Change No. 8:
See Change No. 1.
From three picks against the Redskins to ...
OK, I’ve already beaten on Tony. But the Romo change is just, just... crazy. Count your blessings, Mr. Romo, and see you in a month at training camp in Oxnard.