Wrapping it up from here an hour north of LA, where there are strawberry fields forever, and also a beach, we know this about the Dallas Cowboys:
Change has happened.
But change for the better?
Excuse me for the no-maybe waffle, but I don’t know the answer to my own question. Then again, who does know the answer?
The West Coast portion of training camp ends today, and after nearly four weeks out here, the Cowboys remain a confusing team. There is immense talent in certain areas, but not enough proven talent in other critical areas.
Let’s take it from the top, however, and focus on the Cowboys’ power chart. Good or bad, the 2013 season focus will again on the Dallas Three. The Big D-3.
1. Jerry Jones. 2. Tony Romo. 3. Jason Garrett.
How has the off-season, followed by this training camp since late July, gone for Big D-3?
Here’s the mixed bag of answers:
In the past month, he has confirmed his title as the most successful businessman in professional sports, and a case could be made for Jones being the most successful businessman in the history of professional sports.
The $400 million naming rights deal for the Arlington Big Yard, followed quickly by the $110 million city of Frisco gift to build the new Valley Ranch was pure genius.
Plus, Forbes reconfirmed this week that no NFL franchise comes close to the Cowboys in total value, which the magazine placed at $2.3 billion.
Jones is a killer businessman.
Now, for the flip side.
The off-season, and worrisome nature of this season’s team coming out of training camp, reconfirmed Jones being the worst general manager in pro sports, and a case could be made for Jones being the worst general manager in the history of pro sports.
He’s certainly the dumbest from an ownership standpoint.
We all know no owner ever would allow a GM to keep his job, based on one playoff win — one — since 1996.
Which brings us, however, to the obvious and oft-stated bottom line on Jerry and the Cowboys.
Winning is not a necessity for this franchise.
Jones is so good as a businessman, there’s no hip-pocket pressure to put a winner on the field. His ego has been battered by a failure to prove himself as a “football guy,” but each night his head hits a pillow stuffed with greenbacks. That will soothe any ego destruction.
Let the Jones paradox continue, particularly after his monster financial scores over the past month. Huge winner. Huge loser. Good for him. Bad for his football team.
First things first. You know there’s a problem when a player ranks ahead of the head coach on a team’s power chart.
Of course, the off-season confirmed that’s the case with the Cowboys. Tony is not just the quarterback, he’s also now the assistant owner, and slipped even ahead of Jones’ blood (son Stephen) as the guy sitting closest to Jones in the boardroom.
The big money flowed Romo’s way with the new contract in the off-season, and with the money, came new power. Tony now has a strong say in all things offense, including the game plan and play-calling audibles.
Out here, you can say Romo has looked good, particularly for a quarterback who was shut down the entire off-season (back surgery). He’s been a leader on the practice field. He’s been vocal. He now acts like an assistant coach.
But Tony is still Tony. He will have great games this season. But will he have meltdowns in must-win situations?
Much has changed for Tony since last season. But until the season tells us if it’s change for the better when it comes to winning time, I’ve got no prediction.
From a football standpoint, this is absolutely the most positive development among the Big D-3.
Coming off the turmoil of Garrett’s off-season, when it appeared the head coach had been gelded and embarrassed by Mr. Jones, this has been a camp where Red J has responded with an up-yours attitude aimed at those of us who thought his legs (among other body parts) had been chopped off at the knees.
Garrett has been strong, he’s been tough, and he’s been loose. He has come across, at least to me, as a head coach in total charge.
I was listening in the other day as another reporter questioned Garrett on “perception.” Of course, that’s a negative thing for him, at least in theory. Our perception of what Garrett endured in the off-season says he got whacked by Jones.
“Perception?” answered Garrett, with a snarl. And then he went on to explain where we could all stick our perception opinions.
With the removal of play-calling duties, I followed up with this question:
“Do you now call yourself a walk-around head coach?”
Garrett smiled, and said, “No, I’m just an old ball coach.”
Red J channeling Steve Spurrier was kind of a hoot.
Mr. Jones hasn’t changed anything. That’s a negative, from a football standpoint.
Mr. Romo has gone through personal change from a power standpoint. But it’s an ongoing debate over the football value.
Then there’s Red J. He’s definitely had change, but I’m telling you, it’s a change for the better despite what we once thought over the spring and early summer.