Mac Engel

Hooray for Jerry: The Cowboys nailed these moves and somehow his team is still .500

This doesn’t happen every day, so when it does Jerry ‘n’ Co. deserve their little moment.

They hit a few on the green this offseason.

Start with the draft. Go to the kicker. Look at the safety.

Just don’t talk about free agency.

We’re six games into another tortuous Cowboys season and it’s clear that a few of the controversial decisions made by Pro Football Hall of Fame owner/general manager Jerry Jones and his posse of football minds are winners.

And one decision is a catastrophic miss because it created such a fine mess.

The NFL Draft

When the Cowboys selected Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall in the NFL Draft, the pick ignored needs at safety and wide receiver.

Florida State safety Derwin James was picked two slots ahead of LVE, but receivers D.J. Moore and Calvin Ridley were still on the board. By that point the Cowboys had cut Dez Bryant, and needed a top receiver.

The Cowboys went with LVE as the heir to Sean Lee.

Thank God.

Despite every single effort made by the Cowboys to prevent Lee from sustaining yet another injury, his hamstring went pop in Week 3 in Seattle. He has not played since, but he may this week against Washington.

LVE has demonstrated he is Lee 2.0. The youngster tackles everything, and next to a healthy Jaylon Smith the Cowboys have two guys who could be special at that spot for many years. LVE already leads the team in tackles with 40.

Meanwhile, D.J. Moore has 10 catches for the Panthers, but Calvin Ridley looks like Julio Jones in The A-T-L. Ridley, who was picked 26th by the Falcons, has 22 receptions for 349 yards and six touchdowns.

Beyond LVE, the Cowboys’ selection of Texas guard Connor Williams in the second round resulted in an immediate starter, but he has not nearly been the equivalent of Vander Esch. There remains justified concerns about Williams at the position.

Third round pick Michael Gallup has been spotty at receiver, and fourth rounder Dorance Armstrong followed up an impressive preseason by not doing much once the games turned real.

The Cowboys need Williams and Gallup to be players. They have a sure thing in LVE.


The most stunning cut for the final 53-man roster was the Cowboys’ decision to junk the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history. Dumping Dan Bailey in favor of Brett Maher has worked out as the Cowboys needed.

After missing his first kick as Cowboy in the Week 1 loss in Carolina, Maher has not missed. He is 15 of 16 on field goals this season, is perfect on extra points, and hit the game-winner to defeat Detroit in the final seconds.

BTW: Bailey signed with the Minnesota Vikings and is 8-for-10 this season.


When the Cowboys exercised the fifth-year option on safety Byron Jones’ contract it meant the team was committed to the former first round pick financially for 2019, and to see this thing through.

Jones was the “It” guy from the 2015 NFL Combine, but in his previous three seasons never looked like more than a decent NFL player. The Cowboys tried him at corner as a rookie, and as a safety the last two seasons.

Moving him back to cornerback in the offseason has resulted in one of the best players at the position in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones is the best corner in the NFL. Not kidding. He has allowed seven catches all season.

Granted, he benefits greatly from a quality pass rush, but right now Jones is the player the Cowboys believed they were acquiring when they selected him with the 27th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.


The Cowboys essentially replaced Dez Bryant with free agent acquisition Allen Hurns, who agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal. That move has been an embarrassment.

Hurns has eight receptions for 84 yards and one touchdown. Even worse, quarterback Dak Prescott has thrown at Hurns 22 times, the third highest figure on the team.

Adding Tavon Austin in a trade from the L.A. Rams hasn’t done much, and the position as a whole has been one of the worst in the league.

In reviewing all of these big decisions, the Cowboys went 3 for 4, and yet they are still 3-3.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram