I truly believe that for once almost all of the decisions made by the Jerry Jones concerning the direction of his team this off-season were the right ones.
So if that's right the Cowboys should be significantly better this year, right?
No. While the decisions sound right to me, they were -almost without exception- made in exactly the wrong way.
I'll be a little more forthcoming on my private thoughts than I normally am.
This off-season has made me question if Jerry Jones is going senile. Al Davis senile.
It is like someone gave Jerry a really good plan for success and Jerry just couldn't execute it. Any of it.
That to me is new for Jerry Jones.
In the past Jones may have had some poorly thought out plans, but they were executed in a mostly professional manner by Jones. This off-season was striking in just how lacking in finesse Jones appeared to be.
Who didn't he piss off in his organization?
I am reminded of my Grandmother. At a point in her life she lost all tact and would say hurtful things to everyone. It wasn't intentional --- it is just how things came out when she became "old".
Is that where Jerry Jones is today with all of his "glory hole" talk and his careless trampling of his staff?
Lets walk through it.
Jason Garrett struggled to be the head coach and the play caller over the last couple years. He had several meltdowns at key, stressful moments.
There is a reason almost all NFL teams have their offensive coordinators call the plays.
Head coaches do not need added stress.
Jerry Jones was a staunch believer that his head coach had to not only run the team, but also be a coordinator. It failed after a couple of years with Wade Phillips and has not worked all that well with Jason Garrett.
Suddenly Jerry Jones was all about getting someone other than Jason Garrett calling the plays. Clearly someone talked some sense into Jerry Jones.
Sadly, rather than laying out the benefits privately to Garrett and selling him on the value of that change, Jones took it to the media and pantsed his coach.
(Division foes understand the cadence of Garrett's play calling. After 6 years, no offensive play caller is a mystery to division opponents. A change can be quite beneficial from time to time.)
The same thing happened on defense. Jones appears to have decided after consultation with (probably) Larry Lacewell that Rob Ryan was too far up his own butt. It is one thing to know everything about every defense, but a smart coordinator makes his defense digestible for his players.
There was a lot to the thought that Ryan's defense was so complex that players were thinking rather than playing.
Garrett may not have been involved with this thought process. Garrett publicly praised Ryan and implied the defensive coordinator's job was not in jeopardy. Garrett showed loyalty to Ryan. A couple weeks later Jones fired Ryan, pantsing Garrett again. Jones replaced Ryan with longtime NFL coordinator Monte Kiffin.
Jerry confidante Larry Lacewell used to be Barry Switzer's defensive coordinator at Oklahoma in the 1970's. Nebraska coach Tom Osborne's defensive coordinator in the 1970's was a young superstar by the name of Monte Kiffen.
In a way Jones was doing Garrett a favor. Last off-season Garrett loudly questioned whether the team should go to the 4-3 --- a defense with which Garrett has has more experience and that suited the personnel better.
Last off-season it appeared that Jones and Ryan were against moving out of the 3-4 as the team's base set.
This year Jones brought in two of the best 4-3 defensive coordinators in the league. Great idea, just done in the worst possible way.
Rather than instructing Garrett to fire Ryan and having Garrett hire Kiffin (after "consulting" with Jones), Jones emasculated Garrett in front of his players and the fans.
The firing of Garrett's brother John Garrett also appears to have been a needed step. If Jason Garrett was going to be forced to hire an offensive coordinator, John Garrett, the passing game coordinator and tight ends coach might have been at the top of Garrett's list. Now John Garrett might have been a great offensive coordinator if given the chance, but it is tough to argue that the position would have been earned.
His lack of success developing Martellus Bennett (2nd round 2008) and Anthony Fasano (2nd round 2006) would have been a good reason to fire any tight end coach. Especially damning was the fact both players went on to have success after leaving Dallas.
Jason Garrett was not likely to fire his brother, so Jerry Jones rightly felt a need to do so to protect his coach.
Plus promoting John Garrett would have likely cost the team offensive line coach Bill Callahan. Jones needs Bill Callahan to upgrade the offensive line --- a glaring trouble spot in Dallas.
(It should be noted that Garrett did hire one of "his guys" in new WR coach Derek Dooley. Dooley coached with Garrett in Miami.)
It seems like a lot of the right decisions were made this way but in a ham-fisted way that had Jones's fingerprints on every move instead of Garrett's.
And that doesn't even account for free agency and the draft. More on those in a few days.