Cowboys owner and General Manager Jerry Jones said plenty of things on Friday, as he always does twice per week on 105.3 The Fans. Tucked within the latest oversized word salad are a few ingredients on which current head coach Mike McCarthy potentially would choke.
Jones made it very clear he’s not happy with the notion of having issues to figure out after a one-and-done playoff loss, that those things should be addressed and fixed early in the year.
“I don’t want to wait until we’re sitting here with no season left to address these things we’re doing or not doing,” Jones said. “And so all of that is in the mix here and a part of what I do. But that’s the way I do, as you know, the ultimate decision on these coaches or anywhere around here is what do I have to make? And, so, the guy that you got to be — you don’t got to be — the toughest on should be the one in the mirror. He’s the one that has the ultimate responsibility and consequently I get to operate at that guy’s timeline and that guy’s display of information. And I’m not trying to be anywhere. It’s just not in our best interest to talk about where we are with members of the staff right now. We got 29 coaches, almost three coaches for almost every person on the field. So, I got a lot to think about with regards to these coaches. I got a lot regarding these scouts. I got a lot regarding various aspects of the organization.”
Given the way the season ended — with a poorly coached and/or executed quarterback draw that failed to leave any time on the clock — Jones surely is referring to that play. That moment. The sudden and abrupt end to a season of promise, all because of a lack of detail in the design, coaching, and/or execution of the play.
Jones also realizes that there may be limitations to the human beings to whom he has entrusted his team, and that it’s possible that other human beings may be better suited to deliver the championship Jones so badly covets. (Amazingly, the Cowboys haven’t even played for the opportunity to get to the Super Bowl since 1995.)
“I see a lot of names, a lot of great names, a lot of names from colleges, a lot of great names,” Jones said. “I see them coming through. I see a lot of great names at various duties in the NFL come and go over the last 30 years. I haven’t seen but a couple of them that might have a straight shot into what’s up above and that’s [Bill] Belichick there in New England. His record has been unbelievable. But aside from that I’ll be very candid with you. I see human beings, human frailities, human work ethic, human excelling, and coming up with a way to go. Bottom line is, yes, I’m very, very, very frustrated and upset that we — you can call it COVID. You can call it anything. But we have used up some very talented players over the last few years.”
It’s not clear what Jones is getting at (not that it usually is). But it’s not unreasonable to wonder whether he’s considering whether he can get someone better than McCarthy before initiating the process of parting ways with him. Really, why release the bird in the hand until knowing that the two in the bush can be secured?
That’s hardly unprecedented as NFL hiring goes. Four years ago, Raiders owner Mark Davis wouldn’t have fired Jack Del Rio unless Davis knew he was getting Jon Gruden. Also, and as mentioned earlier in the day, Jones has previously tried to pry Sean Payton away from the Saints. When Jones couldn’t (the full story is documented in Playmakers), he didn’t fire Jason Garrett. If Jones could have pulled it off, Garrett would have been gone, a search would have happened, and then a deal would have been reached between the Saints and Cowboys for compensation, along with a deal between the Cowboys and Payton to take over.
So here’s the bottom line. Just because Jones hasn’t fired McCarthy doesn’t mean Jones won’t. It definitely doesn’t mean Jones isn’t thinking about it. From Jones’s perspective, McCarthy getting fired wouldn’t be the beginning of the process, but something far closer to the beginning of the end.
None of this means McCarthy is out or will be out. It’s just a recognition of the reality that Jones wouldn’t part ways with McCarthy unless Jones knows he’ll end up with a significant upgrade. The question is whether he’s looking for that upgrade.
The question plenty of Cowboys fans are asking is why wouldn’t he be?