One of the human beings most qualified to criticize Jerry Jones’ management of the Cowboys is doing just that.
Fox NFL analyst Troy Aikman, who in 2006 was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a result of his 12-year career as Dallas’ quarterback, naturally was asked Wednesday about the struggling Cowboys during his weekly radio spot on KTCK The Ticket in Dallas. When speaking his way through the myriad of issues plaguing the team that has lost three of its last for games, Aikman, 53, brought up the disconnect in Jones’ messaging at it relates to that of coach Jason Garrett.
“We’ve got a head coach who we know for 10 years has been saying, ‘We’re focused on Tuesday. Today. That’s all we’re worried about is having the best practice today that we can possibly have,’” Aikman said. “And that’s been his messaging throughout, and the owner’s talking about getting on a run and winning the Super Bowl.”
Added Aikman on that subject: “You’ve got a head coach who comes down and says we’re going to evaluate the kicker, and then the front office says right after that — probably in a press conference right outside the locker room — that they weren’t evaluating the kicker. All those things have an impact, and it slowly trickles down.”
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Garrett, 53, has taken the majority of the heat as Dallas has limped to a 6-6 record heading into its Week 14 “Thursday Night Football’ game in Chicago; enough that Sporting News is already wondering who might replace him should Jones decide not to extend the coach’s expiring contract after the season.
Though Jones has said he does not plan to fire Garrett before the end of the year, the 77-year-old team owner hasn’t exactly been gushing in his support of the coach. Aikman on Wednesday allowed that “coaching hasn’t been great at times in certain situations” for the Cowboys in 2019, but he added, “the front office hasn’t been great in allowing the head coach to do his job, either.”
Aikman has a unique perspective of Cowboys operations considering he was drafted by Dallas a few months after Jones purchased the team in 1989. He quarterbacked the Cowboys to consecutive Super Bowl titles in 1992 and ’93 under coach Jimmie Johnson and again in 1995 under Barry Switzer.
It was clear, Aikman said Wednesday, that those coaches were the bosses in a way Garrett evidently is not.
“It starts to take away some of the authority of the head coach,” Aikman said. “And it’s been going on for 20 years, and at some level there’s players that start feeling that, ‘Oh, okay. (Jones) is the guy who’s really calling all the shots.’
“I think there’s some organizations that truly would do everything possible to win, they just don’t really know where to begin. And there’s different ways to do it. And I certainly understand that. But in Dallas, Dallas knows how it was done. I know how it was done. It was done with a really strong head coach who the players knew that that’s who they had to answer to.
“And for some reason that model changed, and it hasn’t been very effective for a while.”
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Aikman also mentioned Dallas’ playing talent is not the problem — an assertion with which Sporting News certainly agrees considering what we thought of the Cowboys entering the 2019 season. Jones, though, can no longer take the credit for the team’s astute roster-building. In Aikman’s estimation, vice president of player personnel Will McClay “is the one doing the general manager work” for the Cowboys.
Dallas, 6-6, amazingly still leads the NFC East over 5-7 Philadelphia. If it wins the division, it will host a wild-card playoff game, likely against Seattle or San Francisco. Given that nonsensical seeding and the way the Cowboys have played of late, a deep playoff run is unlikely.
Many believe the absence of such success will lead Jones to part ways with Garrett. Yet based on Aikman’s criticism, the franchise’s issues are unlikely to be fixed with a coaching change.