The Big Mac Blog

The end is coming: Jerry Jones is a great NFL GM

Jerry Jones will be back in the DFW Sports Tiger Pit soon enough, but for the moment he deserves praise. It will likely be called the equivalent of a Arkansas-accented blind squirrel finding a football acorn (with the aid of millions of dollars), but however he did it Jerry Jones still deserves the recognition for his work as a general manager in 2014.

On Thursday, the Pro Football Writer’s Association voted Jerry the NFL Executive of the Year. Let that one sink in; a great many of you may require the aid of a Johnny Walker Blue to believe it. Or an award such as this for Jerry could mean the end of the world is indeed here. This is the first time Jerry has earned this award, which began in 1993.

Nearly everyone who follows football over the past decade has had great joy in mocking and criticizing Jerry for his football moves, so when he gets it right the man deserves the credit.

On 105.3 The Fan this morning, I asked Jerry Jones if he felt vindicated by the success of the Cowboys this season where they won a total of 13 games, the NFC East, hosted and won a playoff game. Few people have earned a “Told ya’ so” any more than Jerry.

“When we had our game against Indianapolis (on Dec. 21) and we were out here for the first playoff game I must tell you that feeling in that stadium was a triumph. Not to the extent that, ‘Boy, this is it.’ I dare think about going farther, Super Bowl, that’s not it,” Jerry said. “It was just a triumph to see those fans behind our team, and us having the quality of team that could respond to that atmosphere.

“That is a vindication, yes. And I know that it’s very easy to look at, anybody could, if you took 50 years to do that and I would agree with that (it’s vindicating). I’d like to do it more often and sooner, but I’m going to take whatever we can get. I’m so proud to be a part of this bunch and we want to build on this and we can.”

After more than two decades in his roles as the owner/president/general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, a great many of which he was labeled a football dope, the 2014 season demonstrated he is not totally clueless but instead has completely embraced patience.

Whatever football sins he committed in hiring Wade Phillips to replace Bill Parcells as the head coach in 2007 he has slowly changed not necessarily when he hired Jason Garrett as Wade’s replacement, but that he stuck with it. This award is the culmination of Jerry staying with a plan that began several years ago, and never doing anything but slightly tweaking the path.

The younger version of Jerry Jones may have fired Jason Garrett after one of those three consecutive 8-8 seasons. The younger version of Jerry Jones may have insisted on getting his hands dirty and muddy on decisions when it was apparent that the head coach and the staff had a direction and a paradigm to follow.

Maybe it was as a result of stepping back to allow Jason Garrett to name Scott Linehan the passing game coordinator and promote Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator, but these decisions were his. He signed off on not drafting Johnny Manziel, which he wanted to do, in favor of Notre Dame guard Zach Martin. Jerry deserves credit for talking linebacker Rolando McClain out of retirement; McClain was one of the team’s best defensive players. He deserves credit for patiently sticking with Dez Bryant in the maturation process.

Thirteen wins, an NFC East title and winning a playoff game is not a Super Bowl, a standard of which is the foundation of this franchise. But 13 wins, an NFC East title and winning a playoff game when so little was expected deserves credit and recognition.

Jerry did good.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @macengelprof