Jerry Jones said the Cowboys aren’t rebuilding, and for a man who will turn 72 in October, no one can blame him. Of course, Jerry said the same thing when he was 60 and his head coach was Dave Campo, and his quarterback was Quincy Carter.
Delusion has never stopped Jerry.
But our favorite, fearless football savant is now fully aware of how truly precious time really is, and that the dreaded “R” word is for wussies. The man has been “going for it” since he bought the team, and that is how he attacks life.
The head coach of the Cowboys is also keenly aware of how precious time is, and he knows he won’t have much of it in his present state unless the results change in the fall.
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As committed as Jerry was to Jason Garrett throughout last season, there is no way he will retain Coach Process beyond 2014 without a winning record and playoff berth.
The seemingly inseparable love connection between Jason Garrett and Tony Romo will eventually have to be split and, barring injury, the first one to go will be the head coach.
While technically the Houston Texans are “on the clock, no NFL coach is staring at an unwinding clock more than Jason Garrett.
This is Garrett’s last chance, and for him to have a better chance of finally succeeding, the Cowboys are going to have find some defensive players in the draft.
Jerry has given him the play-caller he wants — Scott Linehan. Now he needs to give him another real defensive player rather than a plate of Jeff Heath and a bunch of other guys good enough to lose by 30.
It was one year ago that Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones noted the team had to focus on the offensive side of the ball because it had spent so much of its resources on the defense in previous years.
Between 2008 and 2012, 24 of the Cowboys’ 39 picks were on defense. Then they awarded large contracts to veterans Jay Ratliff, DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and Brandon Carr.
All of those picks and all of that money helped set the foundation to make the worst defense in the NFL last season. The year before, the unit ranked 19th.
So imagine how bad this defense would have been without all of those picks and all of that money?
Only our government spends more money and gets less. But the Cowboys have no other choice other than to address this area again.
Thus far this off-season, they signed damaged goods on the cheap in free agents Henry Melton and Spencer, both of whom are quite effective … if they are healthy.
The success of this defense, and ultimately Garrett’s job, comes down to the following ifs: Romo’s back; linebacker Sean Lee’s health; linebacker Bruce Carter and corner Morris Claiborne’s ability to no longer look lost on a field; defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford, who missed all of last season with a torn Achilles, returning and making an impact; on and on.
Had the Cowboys hit on just a few more players in the previous drafts maybe they would have won nine games in any of the previous three seasons, and Garrett would have the extension his boss rightfully has yet to extend.
Garrett needs the Cowboys to spend their first-round pick on a defensive player, but the guy they may select is an offensive lineman — Notre Dame’s Zack Martin is a chic selection at 16. Knowing this team, don’t be surprised if it drafts a tight end.
Because the Cowboys’ bar has been lowered to hanging playoff banners, Garrett just needs to make the postseason to retain his job for another year. Just win that ninth game this time, and he and the Cowboys are likely in “the tournament.”
The best way to reach the tournament is to improve a defense from historically bad to just awful.
The Cowboys aren’t rebuilding because Jerry doesn’t have the time, and now, after seven years as a coordinator or head coach, neither does the head coach.
Follow Mac Engel on The Big Mac Blog at star-telegram.com/sports.