Surrounded by a crowd that formerly booed him, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made one final pledge to the 93,000 in attendance who now cheer for him.
At halftime of the Cowboys’ game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night, the Pro Football Hall of Fame honored him for his induction this summer. He spoke briefly to the crowd, and promised them that his goal is to make the Cowboys, and the NFL, better.
“That’s what I should do,” Jones said passionately, “and that’s what I’m gonna try to do!”
His Cowboys were then outscored 30-0 in the second half of a blowout loss before a national NBC Sunday Night Football audience.
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“We have to process this one quickly,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, whose team plays the Los Angeles Chargers in four days.
Process this: On a night where Jerry was praised and the franchise honored the 1992 Super Bowl team, the Cowboys lost 37-9 and the best player was the place kicker who was signed off the street a few weeks ago.
The Cowboys are 5-5, Jerry’s hand-picked head coach is looking particularly terrible, and the year Jerry deservedly went into the Pro Hall of Fame both he and his franchise have embarrassed themselves.
Tony Romo should be partying. He’s in the CBS TV booth with Jim Nantz rather than running for his life with this bunch.
The Cowboys are 0-2 without running back Ezekiel Elliott and left tackle Tyron Smith, and have scored 16 points since Zeke began serving a six-game suspension that we know now is the reason Jerry is after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s job.
Injuries happen in football, but only our Cowboys could screw this all up in such tabloid trash fashion. Credentialed screenwriters could not come up with a plot twist where the best offensive player is suspended for something the league can’t define, and after the owner goes into the Hall of Fame he gets into the Octagon with the commissioner of the league.
On the field, start with a head coach who continually fails to impress anyone this season. Remember, this is the NFL’s Coach of the Year in 2016, but in ‘17 he has won the NFL Donkey Of the Week award on multiple occasions.
Nothing may top the gem Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan threw last week in Atlanta when they decided to see just how many hits quarterback Dak Prescott could take without losing a limb by leaving Chaz Green alone at left tackle.
Against the Eagles, Byron Bell started as Smith continues to nurse various ailments. Bell had help, Dak did not die, but nothing else happened.
Trailing 23-9 and needing some points, the Cowboys faced a third-and-2 from their own 45. They chose to run backup, backup running back Rod Smith behind the worst side of the offensive line, which resulted in no gain.
The Cowboys now have one touchdown in their past 23 offensive possessions.
“We haven’t been good enough,” Garrett said. “We haven’t been consistent throwing the football. Pass protection not as good as it needs to be. We haven’t been able to attack the defense the way we are capable of doing. It’s not good enough.”
Garrett was clearly not happy with his quarterback, but the quarterback has a lot to not be happy about with his coach and teammates.
Be sure to blame Garrett’s players, too. Wide receivers Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley all took turns at dropping important passes.
Dak was intercepted twice in the first half, the first of which is entirely on T-Will. The second is entirely on Dak, who forced a deep ball to Dez that was somewhere between an awful idea and a terrible idea. Dak turned the ball over four times.
“The second one was bonehead; simple as that,” Dak said. “I was trying to make a play.”
What a novel idea. Against the Eagles, Dak was trying to do more. More than he normally does. Because he’s receiving limited help.
Don’t worry, Dak. This happened to Romo. A lot.
Dak also has no chemistry with his best wide receiver. Dez caught eight passes for 63 meaningless yards, but he has been mostly a non-factor all season. He either got old and can’t get open, which happens, or Dak does not trust something about this relationship.
Then there was the defense, which again proved it can’t stop anyone without linebacker Sean Lee. Lee was again out with a hamstring injury.
“I thought we did a good job of bottling up their run,” Garrett said.
He’s right. Too bad the game started.
The Eagles ran 33 times for 215 yards. Last week in Atlanta, the Falcons ran the ball 34 times for 132 yards.
Then there is owner/general manager, who now is the focus of a central NFL story where he is going against the wishes of his fellow owners to crush, embarrass and or evict Goodell.
“To sum it all up, what I want of all is I want accountability, more accountability,” Jerry said after the game. “I want unprecedented accountability to the ownership. That simple.”
Considering how supportive Jerry has been of Goodell for so long, to turn on him when he doesn’t like one of his over-reach power-play decisions looks petty and small.
They look nothing like a Hall of Famer.
And if it were any other team all of these developments and twists would be a surprise.
Only our Cowboys make this look routine.
Mac Engel: @macengelprof