Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is still not over his team’s 9-7 finish in 2017 after heading into the season with Super Bowl hopes.
It has prompted a host of changes on the coaching staff and some hard conversations about the future of some veterans while scouting rookies for the future at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis the past few days.
“I just reminds me we really were disappointed last year and we’ve got to do better,” Jones said Saturday during a 52-minute interview on his blue-star emblazoned Cowboys outside Lucas Oil.
Jones is no longer crying in his pillow because the NFC rival Philadelphia Eagles took what he thought was the Cowboys destiny with a victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
In the end, he said he found himself begrudgingly rooting for the Eagles.
“As much as we have the rivalry that we have, and as frustrating as it was for the Cowboys not to be playing, as much as all of that, I was proud of them, given that narrow set of circumstances, could root for them,” Jones said. “That takes it right down to just absolutely no choice, you either do or you die. And I want to go again.”
More important, Jones said the success the Eagles have raised the bar and put more pressure on a Cowboys franchise that has only had two playoff wins since 1997 and hasn’t reached the conference title game since winning their last of five Super Bowl titles in 1995.
“I think it raises the bar. I think it puts pressure on the Cowboys,” Jones said. “They’ve took it down to the bone and brought it back up and have a world championship and we’ve been doing the same thing, where is ours? That’s fair. That’s fair.”
Many blame the Cowboys' struggles in 2017 on the loss of running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games due to an NFL suspension, injuries to left tackle Tyron Smith and linebacker Sean Lee and a sophomore slump of sorts for quarterback Dak Prescott.
Yet, the Eagles won the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback, a backup left tackle and a backup middle linebacker _ none of which were lost of Jones.
It’s legitimate comparison and one that will be ongoing when you consider that the Eagles have a second-year franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz who was in the midst of an MVP season before going down with a knee injury but return in 2018 and match wits with Prescott for years to come.
“They didn’t have a quarterback either, and they got one, and then they lost him and they got one. You didn’t have Zeke, so good excuse, but they didn’t have a lot of their players. So just the fact that they did it the way they did it, really for me it sure eliminates one of the real excuses. You can say that you just can’t have the kind of depth, but they didn’t have necessarily that kind of depth but they had enough that they shifted some of the ability of the team to execute their parts where they had their regulars, and we didn’t do that. We’re pretty easy to compare if you look at where they have some of their talent -- quarterback, we have a quarterback -- and we got some comparables to where they are, so then why not us? What’s wrong with us? They got a young quarterback, they got a young coach. They just got a better owner. Not as good a general manager but (laughing) …”
At least, Jones, who also serves as the Cowboys general manager, still has his sense of humor.