There were those skeptical of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' claim that his team would host the Super Bowl in the new, state-of-the-art Cowboys Stadium, but even the most ardent disbelievers could not have imagined the disaster Dallas' season has become. After the Cowboys' 35-17 home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jones spoke to the media in a state of confusion.
"I'm embarrassed," Jones said. "Of course I am. And to every fan, I should have and do take the ultimate, ultimate responsibility. I do. That's the way we're structured. That's the way I run it. There's no question that I have the plan and executing it to have the best players and the best coaching that we can have. I'm dumbfounded that we are 1-7."
He should be dumbfounded -- the Cowboys are only 1-6 at this point. But scheduled as they are to face a Green Bay Packers team that shut out the New York Jets this Sunday -- and at Lambeau Field, to boot -- 1-7 shouldn't be too far away. Dallas' debacle has seen the team pulled down in every direction. We've already detailed the three dropped passes that led to interceptions in Jon Kitna's(notes) starting debut in relief of the injured Tony Romo(notes), but that was far from the only issue against a Jags team that has been beatable all season.
Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard(notes) threw for four touchdowns and barely avoided a perfect quarterback rating against a Dallas defense that has been an abject disappointment all year. The supposedly dynamic three-pronged rushing attack ran for just 50 yards in 22 carries. Miles Austin(notes) caught seven balls, but it took him 12 targets to do it. And in a rush of embarrassing play calling, linebackers Bradie James(notes) and Keith Brooking(notes) were in solo coverage on tight end Marcedes Lewis(notes). Result: two touchdowns.
"You couldn't get me to say it, but you know that I thought we had a team here that could be one of the top competitive teams in the NFL," Jones said. "I'm very, very, very sorry to our fans. You should have better than this ... You can tell by the way some of the things that we've done to certainly make the Cowboys everything you want them to be, you should be able to tell that I won't rest until we've figured some things out to get us in a different spot. What it is, I don't have that."
Jones stopped short of indicating that head coach Wade Phillips' job was in danger; coaches like Phillips are probably safe through this season. With the CBA in danger, and a possible work stoppage on the horizon after the 2011 draft, team owners are not eager to pay two different coaches to not coach in the near future.
"I am not in any way for making changes," Jones said. "I have always thought our best chance to win, when you've got three-day weeks and you've got to get ready to go to play a team, the best chance to win was to continue to be coached and continue to do some of the same things. There's not enough time to change."
There isn't enough time to change right now, but the answer to the Cowboys' turnaround is as plain as the nose on Jones' face. Be it Jimmy Johnson or Bill Parcells, Jones has only found success with his team when he has ceded power to those who understand the game better than he does -- not family members and yes-men too dependent on his checks to tell him what's really wrong. The Cowboys will suffer through a lost season in 2010; that much is clear. What happens next depends on how willing Jones is to sublimate his ego for the good of the organization.