Turning Dallas Into Raiders South

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - February 07, 2007
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Call them the Raiders South. Led by an egomaniacal owner, the Dallas Cowboys are on their way to becoming like the team that once arrogantly boasted “Just win, baby” to one searching for just one win, baby.

At least Al Davis was once a damn fine coach with a keen eye for talent.

The Cowboys have not fallen as hard as their Bay Area counterparts, but it’s not difficult to see the comparisons between two owners who continue to think they are the axis around which their franchises turn, and not the players, coaches or executives who provide the actual engine for success.

Dallas’ downfall began long before the signing of Terrell Owens, which we will get back to shortly. Cracks began to appear more than a decade ago when Jones boasted that any one of 500 coaches could win with the talent he had put together. By undercutting Jimmy Johnson, the coach who built the very team he was celebrating, owner Jerry Jones let you know how things were going to be. He’s owner, general manager and John Wayne rolled into one. He calls the shots even though his aim has not been great.


Though the draft has brought in some solid talent in recent years - Roy Williams, Terence Newman and DeMarcus Ware - the team has yet to find a suitable replacement to Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman. Recycled veterans and little-known picks Quincy Carter, Anthony Wright, Ryan Leaf, Clint Stoener, Vinny Testeverde and Drew Beldsoe have hardly built confidence in the position. Tony Romo, who was mysteriously stuck behind an ever-worsening Bledsoe, seemed like the second coming early in the season, but teams caught up with him and it’s still too early to tell if he’s the answer or yet another stop gap.

Since their last Super Bowl victory in 1995, the Cowboys have done little to right the ship from a coaching standpoint - no doubt a difficult job with a nosy owner. The final years under Barry Switzer followed by Chan Gailey, Dave Campo and an under-achieving Bill Parcells combined to lead the Cowboys to a 83-93 record and only one playoff win (in 1996) - a record that may impress Lions and Cardinals fans, but one that hardly hints at what was once a dominant franchise in two different decades.

Now that Parcells has decided to retire instead of going down with the ship, Jones has been busy hiring a staff. He’s got an offensive coordinator, has talked to some prospective defensive coaches and (of this writing) has interviewed some eight coaches for the big headache.

How long will it take the owner to find the necessary yes man?

We’ll see.

Who other than a former bust (Wade Phillips, Norv Turner) or hungry first-year man would want to get into bed with a club that won’t allow him to hire his own staff? Hall of famer Mike Singletary has been interviewed and if he coaches like he played, he’s far too intelligent to accept the appointment. Bears D-coordinator Ron Rivera should be getting a call, but again, smart coach, dumb situation doesn’t add up.


Back to Owens. After being fired in Philly, the all-star receiver had few prospects for employment. Not many teams wanted a two-time troublemaker, especially one seeking a large salary. Along comes Jones. So enamored by his skill and his desire to field a champion, Jones gave the self-interested receiver a pay raise even though the coach wanted nothing to do with the man often referred to as “the player.”

We’ve seen how well that has worked out.

Jerry Jones is not a complete moron and he does deserve some of the credit for the team’s past success. But he deserves much more for its recent failures. As painful as it was for fans, a change of leadership was necessary and Tom Landry’s time had come and gone. Jones was akamai enough to recognize Johnson’s talent and vision, and at least for a few years he let his coaches do their jobs.

But that was a long time ago.

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