Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has a habit of supporting his employees unconditionally and unequivocally until the moment at which he supports them no more.
And so it should not be regarded as a surprise if Jones decides to stop supporting some of the key employees who are responsible for the operation and direction of his football team.
The focal point of the waiting game in this regard will be coach Jason Garrett. Yes, Jones has said that Garrett will be back. But that vote of confidence came while the Cowboys were still alive for the postseason, and Jones has shown that he won’t do anything to undermine his coach or players while a chance remains to win the Super Bowl.
Now, in the aftermath of another disappointing outcome to the season, Jones tells CBS Radio in Dallas that changes are coming to the Cowboys. “I can assure you guys — I can assure our fans — it’s going to be very uncomfortable for the next few weeks and months at Valley Ranch,” Jones said.
Jones said he realizes that “[i]f you don’t do something, almost unconventional, then you really don’t break out of that cycle” of NFL parity. He pointed out that the Redskins and the Broncos did that in 2012, via the acquisition of Robert Griffin III and Peyton Manning.
So what will Jones due to “break out of the cycle”? He made it clear that Tony Romo isn’t going anywhere. Jones also pointed out that Romo and Jason Garrett “have been working together for six football seasons,” saying it in a way that made us think maybe Jones thinks it’s time for someone else to work with Romo.
Jones specifically declined to comment on whether Garrett or defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will return, and whether Garrett will continue to call the plays on offense.
Still, it doesn’t sound like either of them are as safe as they were believed to be. “I’m going to spend a lot of time visiting with people outside of the organization that I have a lot of confidence in that will help us evaluate how to do the things that I know what our fans want to do, and that’s not to be sitting here at .500,” Jones said. “There are a lot of teams that haven’t been at .500, but nobody hasn’t been at .500 and spent as much cash as I’m spending.”
If Jones makes a change at coach, here’s how we think it will happen. He’ll line up a successor quietly before firing Garrett, like Jones did when he lured Bill Parcells to Dallas while Dave Campo was still the coach.
The name to watch continues to be Jon Gruden. As mentioned on Monday’s Pro Football Talk, Jones was spotted a few weeks ago in Tampa, where Gruden lives.
If not Gruden, Mike Holmgren remains a possibility.
Either way, Jones emphasized on several occasions that “fundamentals” are more important than schemes. And the fundamental truth is that Jones could be considering finding someone else to instill those qualities to the team’s players.