The Dallas Cowboys were eliminated in the opening weekend of the playoffs, yet talk about “America’s Team” still dominates the news. The main talking point is the Cowboys’ failure to win the Super Bowl and who is at fault. These types of conversations are so reductive as it’s not one thing. But ESPN’s Sam Acho placed the blame at the feet of owner Jerry Jones this week.
“If by ‘this’ you mean not being able to win Super Bowls, I would say all of it,” Acho said on “Get Up” Thursday. “Right now the Dallas Cowboys have a top-ranked offense, a rising defense. But you have people getting in the way. If Jerry Jones wants to go and win, sometimes you gotta realize that you have to get out of your own way. It’s not about you and your ego, you being in control, you being in the meda. It’s about letting the players play and the coaches coach.”
Jones does have an ego and is out in the media more than any other NFL owner. He has a weekly radio segment in Dallas. He wants everyone to know that he is the Cowboys. They are the world’s most valuable franchise ($5.7 billion) despite the fact that nobody outside of the United States cares about the NFL. He does get credit for that.
But really effective leaders hire people into prominent positions and empower them to be their best selves. Jones serves as the team’s general manager in addition to being the owner. His son Stephen Jones serves as the team’s CEO and director of player personnel.
Not saying that the Jones’ are not experienced, but is this the best way to make sure the Cowboys are the best possible team? How many football people and people with knowledge in adjacent and related disciplines are employed and empowered within the organization?
Jerry Jones wants it to be known that he and by extension his family are why the Cowboys are who they are. He couldn’t share the spotlight with head coach Jimmy Johnson in the 1990s and ran him out of town after winning back-to-back Super Bowls.
Acho’s point about coaches coaching and players playing make sense. Everyone in the organization has a job to do. Things start to get haywire if people do too much. It’s clichéd, but look at the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick coaches, Robert Kraft handles ownership duties, and the players do their jobs.
It’s a pretty successful formula.
The opening-round loss still stings for the Cowboys’ players, especially starting quarterback Dak Prescott.
“There’s probably some games, some moments in an athlete’s career that just stick with them forever, and I’m sure that’ll be one of them,” Prescott said about the playoff loss to the 49ers.
The Cowboys are a talented team, they finished the regular season No. 1 in total DVOA and weighted DVOA, sixth in offensive DVOA and second in defensive DVOA. They are good enough to compete for a championship.
But maybe the franchise shouldn’t expect something that’s a 1-in-32 chance as their right, and instead just do the things necessary to give itself as many chances as possible to win. That starts with everyone, including Jerry, doing their jobs.
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