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The 5 O'Clock Club: Trolling the Cowboys - Part 3

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

Dallas Cowboys v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Jerry Jones

Jerrruh is more than the usual owner. He is the General Manager, responsible for player acquisition. He hires & fires the coaches.

Unlike most teams, where a key player is the marquee draw, Jerruh has made himself the face of the Cowboys franchise.

He is also the (very loud) mouth of the organization.

I get the sense that Stephen Jones has a pretty good idea what he’s doing when it comes to running a football team. Fortunately for the rest of the NFC East and the NFL in general, Jerruh doesn’t seem to be inclined to let his boy take over, and Jerruh appears to be in good health. Comparisons to the seemingly immortal Montgomery Burns spring to mind — for all sorts of reasons.

The first major decision that Jerry Jones made after buying the team in 1989 was to fire the iconic Tom Landry rather unceremoniously, and hire his old friend Jimmy Johnson to coach the team.

In a rare case of good luck, the cronyism paid off, with Jones taking the team through five seasons with records of 1-15, 7-9, 11-5, 13-3 and 12-4. The team went to the playoffs in each of the last three season, winning back-to-back superbowls in the final two. Only weeks after Super Bowl XXVIII, however, friction between Johnson and Jones culminated in Johnson stunning the football world by announcing his resignation.

Basically, Jerry’s immense ego got in the way of franchise success. Jerry didn’t like the fact that Jimmy Johnson was getting all the credit for the team success. Jerry wanted the spotlight on himself as the owner, and more importantly to him, as the General Manager.

Jerry was rich, but he wanted to be “a football guy”. He wanted to be respected as the architect of the team’s success.

The Cowboys did go on to win one more superbowl — this time with Barry Switzer as the head coach — but it was with Jimmy Johnson’s players, which left an asterisk next to the championship in terms of Jerry Jones being the driving force.

Since then, he has made it his mission to build a super bowl winner again... one for which he can take all the credit.

But the 22 intervening years have not been kind to Jerry Jones in his quest for greatness as an NFL General Manager.

Sure, he got the gold jacket this year. Yes, his team is worth about $4.2 billion. Sure, he has those three trophies in the case down in Texas.

But Jerry hasn’t gotten what he wants; he hasn’t built a winning team apart from Jimmy Johnson that he can take credit for. That’s the one thing he probably wants to achieve before shuffling off this mortal coil.

For the 22nd straight season, Jerry isn’t gonna get what he wants, and time is running out for the 75 year old megalomaniac.

What has Jerry built lately?

This is a team whose star player is on suspension for actions that were deemed to violate the NFL’s policy against domestic violence.

Elliott’s questionable character and behavior seem to fit a pattern that might well be called “The Cowboy Way”. Randy Gregory and Greg Hardy are just two of the headline names from a team known for inviting trouble into the locker room.

Without Zeke in the lineup, and with a couple of key injuries to other star players like good-guy LB Sean Lee and all-pro LT Tyron Smith, the Cowboys are in trouble, and much of the blame seems to belong to the GM who drafted the players and hired the coaches.

The Cowboys are led by a 4th round quarterback from last year’s draft, who has limited NFL skills, while the team takes a cap hit of $10.7 million for Tony Romo, who is in the booth as an analyst at the Cowboy’s games. (The “good news” for the Cowboys is that they only have one more year of cap hit for Romo in 2018, and he will only cost the team $8.9 million next year).

The defensive secondary was demolished in free agency this past off-season, primarily because of the $19.6 million cap hit devoted to Tony Romo that prevented the team from retaining players like Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church and others.

The receiving corps is an underperforming money pit made up of Dez Bryant ($16.5m), Jason Witten ($6.5m) and Terrance Williams ($4.75m). That’s nearly $28m devoted to an aging wideout who can’t create separation, is ranked 40th among WRs in yards per game, and leads the league in dropped passes; an aging tight end, who’ll get a gold jacket one day, but is currently ranked 80th among NFL tight ends in yards per reception; and another WR who ranks 56th among wide receivers in yards per game, and hasn’t caught a touchdown yet this season.

The writers who cover the team — both locally and nationally — are openly asking if Jason Garrett will be fired, and their daily and weekly columns describe a team that has quit, a locker room in disarray, and players who openly carry a beaten attitude.

This is what Jerry has built.

And what has Jerry Jones been concentrating on for the past six weeks while his team has been falling apart?

Some think Jerry Jones was behind the Papa John’s rant

On Wednesday, the CEO of Papa John’s blamed a decline in earnings on a decline in NFL ratings, which he in turn blamed on the lingering anthem controversy. In response, some blame Cowboys CEO Jerry Jones for putting Papa John up to it.

Jones has become a significant Papa John’s franchise owner, with the total number of stores owned by Jones in excess of 100 as of 2014.

The relationship started in 2004, when Papa John’s became the official pizza of the Cowboys, and in turn Jones acquired 49-percent interest in 71 Papa John’s stores.

Jerry Jones: Cowboys players will be benched for ‘disrespecting’ the flag

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he will bench players for “disrespecting the flag” during the national anthem.

The threat came Sunday following the team’s 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

“Understand? We will not,” he said. “If we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period…We’re going to respect the flag and I’m going to create the perception of it. And we have.”

Jones went on to defend Vice President Mike Pence for his decision to walk out of Sunday’s 49ers-Colts game after more than 20 players took a knee during the national anthem.

“We cannot in the NFL in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag,” Jones said. “I know the vice president did leave, because in his opinion the teams were. We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind that the National Football League and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag. Just so we’re clear.”

The longtime NFL owner and general manager continued, “I’m saying our vice president, if in his opinion, there’s disrespect of the flag then he should express himself however he wants to say. He’s got rights, too. He felt that not standing for the flag is disrespectful. I do, too. The league in my mind should absolutely take the rules we’ve got on the books and make sure that we do not give the perception that we’re disrespecting the flag.”

Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones: ‘I Appreciate’ Trump Tweeting About NFL Anthem Protests

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones Said that he appreciated that the president continued to speak out on the issue. He also referenced Trump’s time of being a USFL football team owner.

“Donald Trump is a longtime fan of sport and longtime fan of football and has been involved as (an) owner in professional football, so he has some knowledge,” Jones stated.

Jerry Jones Threatens to Sue N.F.L. to Block Roger Goodell’s Contract

[T]he league, already wobbling under the strain of presidential and public aggravation over players’ kneeling during the national anthem, is coping with what amounts to an all-out war between one of its most powerful owners and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, who has been rewarded for the N.F.L.’s success with annual compensation that has topped $40 million.

Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has escalated a feud with Goodell, threatening to sue the league and some fellow team owners over negotiations to extend Goodell’s contract, according to three people with direct knowledge of the situation.

Jerry has been seeking headlines as a rabble-rouser while his team has steadily disintegrated.

Jerry Jones, whose dream is to leave behind a legacy of greatness in the NFL, whose shit-eating grin was a mile wide when he received his ludicrous gold jacket this year, and whose desire to win a superbowl seems to have been overtaken by his desire to be seen as the most influential owner in the NFL, has been figuratively fiddling while Rome has been burning.

Jerry’s team is in disarray, and his chief concerns seem to be undermining Roger Goodell and supporting Donal Trump.

The Cowboys are in a freefall at the moment and appear to have no answers

The Cowboys have had a wild season that isn’t easy to pigeonhole. It has been tainted from the beginning by the whole Ezekiel Elliott suspension drama. It seemed to cast a pall on the early part of the season. Looking back from our Week 13 perspective, I feel like the Cowboys season breaks into three parts:

Part 1 - Before the Bye

Dallas played 5 games before their Week 6 bye, putting together a disappointing 2-3 campaign. As the Giants kept on losing, the Week 1 division victory looked less and less impressive, and by Week 6, Cowboys fans were depressed, and already talking about the 2018 draft. They were convinced that they were out of the playoffs. It was fun to read Blogging the Boys during their bye week.

Part 2 - Weeks 7-9

Coming out of the bye, the Cowboys seemed to come back to life. They ripped off 3 straight wins (including Week 8 against the Redskins). Zeke Elliott, who had looked distracted, unhappy and out of shape early in the season seemed to finally show up and play for his team. Dallas put up 40, 33, and 28 points in three games, without allowing the opposition to reach 20 points in any of the three games.

The fans came to life and started talking not just about reaching the playoffs, but possibly catching the Eagles and winning an NFC East title. Heady times had returned to Dallas. At 5-3, with a 3-game winning streak, everyone was starting to remember the 13-3 division championship season of 2016.

Hell, even if Zeke had to serve his suspension, Dak Prescott could carry the team to a 4-2 record in 6 games. The Cowboys were still looking at 11-5... maybe 13-3 again if Zeke didn’t have to serve his suspension till next season.

Things were looking up. Blogging the Boys was in full-blown delusional mode.

Part 3 - the suspension

Zeke was finally suspended for the Week 10 game against the Falcons. There was talk of Alfred Morris being able to give Dak enough support to squeeze out a win.

Instead, the Cowboys went back to Dallas after a 27-7 spanking that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. A week later, Alfred Morris ran for over 90 yards — most of them in the first half. But no one on the Cowboys team could get the ball across the goal line. It was 37-9, Eagles, and any thought of a division championship evaporated.

Thanksgiving Day at home against the Chargers offered hope for the 5-5 Cowboys to get things back on track against a surging but beatable opponent. Instead, it was the Chargers who padded their record with a 28-6 beatdown over the home team.

Dallas had been outscored 92-22 in three games, and the team had not been able to put up 10 points in any of the three games — something that had never before happened in the history of the franchise.

Present Day - Week 13

The Redskins travel to Texas to take on the Cowboys for the second time this season.

This is effectively a playoff game; the loser will be 2 games under .500 with four left to play. The winner will be 6-6 needing to sweep the December schedule to qualify for a playoff berth.

Frankly, even if the Cowboys manage to win on Thursday night against the Redskins, with Zeke suspended for two more games and the Eagles on the schedule in Week 17, it’s almost impossible to imagine this team can win enough games to secure a wildcard spot.

The Redskins, on the other hand, if they can get past the Cowboys, have a fair shot at going 4-0 against the Chargers, Cardinals, Broncos and Giants. It’s no walk in the park, and none of those games is a guaranteed win, but it seems more achievable than the mountain that the Cowboys would have to climb.

If the articles being written and published by Dallas Cowboys beat writers at the moment are any indication, then the Cowboys are a team that has already given up.

What’s the temperature at Blogging the Boys?

A quick look at the Cowboys’ SB Nation fan site Blogging the Boys shows that — similar to the bye week earlier this season — despair has set in among the fan base. Here’s a sample of the articles being written there:

The Cowboys are living up to every negative narrative about them

It’s frustrating to hear people talk negatively about the Cowboys. Unfortunately, they have every reason to.

How many debates, arguments, or general scuffles did you get in over the offseason about how good Dak is? People likely said it was all the situation he was in, and three games without Ezekiel Elliott have done nothing to disprove prove that.

Who among you literally said the words “I’ll take Dak over Carson Wentz any way” only to watch the latter have a much superior season this year.

It’s likely that some of you even discussed how the Jason Garrett era had finally arrived, that his system had finally clicked into place. With the team in as much turmoil as we’ve seen in recent history, the idea that the system is working has to be questioned.

People like to say that clichés exist for a reason, that’s why they’re clichés. Wherever these Cowboys clichés came from, they’re going to be here to stay for a while. And the reason is that the Cowboys are giving everyone a reason to believe them.

Lesson learned: The Cowboys look to be a mentally beaten team

The only truly consistent players on the team are the punter and long snapper. What does that tell you?

There are so many problems on this team right now that there is no one answer. The Cowboys need better coaching, they have some serious problems in personnel acquisition and retention to overcome, injuries continue to hamper them, the players on the field are almost all failing at their jobs, and the owner has put so much energy into his fight with the league and the commissioner that he appears to have sorely neglected the GM part of his job description.

If you try to name the players who have not been an issue at some point in the season due to either performance, injury, or suspension, the list really consists of two names: Punter Chris Jones and long snapper L.P. LaDouceur. And they are getting an awful lot of work lately as Dallas has reached an all time nadir offensively, and the defense is right there with them. For the third consecutive game, the Cowboys did not reach 250 yards of total offense or double digits on the score board. And the Los Angeles Chargers did not have a single punt. They only managed three points in the first half because kicker Nick Novak was injured, not because the defense was doing well. Dallas had zero sacks and forced zero turnovers.

Simply put, everything has gone wrong. What were thought to be manageable issues at the beginning of the season have turned into an avalanche of ineptitude. It is an old cliche, but in the past three games we have seen a team that is truly and absolutely beating itself.

Cowboys News: Blame game starts as Cowboys hit rock bottom

Latest Cowboys headlines: Why next-man-up doesn't work in Dallas; coaching changes coming?

(Note that the 4 excerpts below are linked from 4 different articles written by local or national journalists about the Cowboys)

The more I hear the phrase “Next Man Up,” the more I’m starting to really hate it. I get the premise of the phrase. Sure, you want the backup player to step right in and pick up the slack without any setbacks.

But it doesn’t happen like that. Not every situation is Kurt Warner waiting in the wings to replace Trent Green and the Rams just go win the Super Bowl. Yeah, those stories are usually sent to Hollywood, or Canton, or both.

In reality, most backup situations call for a change in the philosophy or scheme. I just don’t think you can lose Ezekiel Elliott and simply say, “Next man up, Alfred. Go in there and let’s play the way we always play.” You can’t just put Chaz Green out at left tackle and give him little help like you do with Tyron Smith.

You can’t play the same defensive scheme with Anthony Hitchens out there as you do with Sean Lee and expect it to be the same just because they’re the next guy up.

But it seems like there’s a mindset of “sticking to the game plan” even though the game plan was designed for other players.

and

I asked [Jason Garrett] after the game how surprised he is that Dak and the offense have failed so completely without Ezekiel Elliott, and he said, "I'm surprised. We all know it shouldn't be that way. Zeke's important, Zeke makes it better, but to a man around here, we all know it shouldn't be to this degree at all."

To me, that suggests that the blame is on the front office with those responsible for putting together a roster that should be able to absorb some of these injuries and not fall apart on both sides of the ball as we've seen the Cowboys do. And it falls on the coaching staff that has not been able to figure out any sort of consistent offense that can routinely score points and allow games to be competitive. So to me that's Jerry saying that's on me and this is on Jason Garrett and the coaches. He seems to be absolving the players for the most part.

and

Has Jason Garrett lost his team, and will it cost him his job a season after he led the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC? If he continues as the coach, are there significant changes to come for a coaching staff that has seen its past three opponents outscore the Cowboys 72-6 in the second half?

Is Dak Prescott, who followed his first three-interception game with another two interceptions after having just four picks in 2016, really the quarterback of the future?

Is Dez Bryant in his final days with the Cowboys?

One question doesn’t need to be asked: Jerry Jones will not replace himself as general manager.

A season that started with Super Bowl aspirations has dissolved into a 5-6 mess in which the Cowboys can be thankful for only that the New York Giants have been worse, at 2-8.

With five games left to play, everybody might be coaching for a job, here or elsewhere.

and

The offense is so bad right now and the decisions are maddening. There was almost no attempt at play-action passing Thursday and no sign of even the slightest explosive play. The coaches are looking at an extremely young quarterback who is facing adversity for the first time, and it appears they want him to figure it out.

This is historically bad. When the defense and offense can both produce stat totals that suggest they have rarely played this bad in the same game, the floor has dropped out from under the season. When they do it three weeks in a row, then you have to consider pressing the button that tells HR to start filling out dismissal paperwork for an entire regime.

Nothing I write this morning can express how badly this month has been botched. Morale couldn't be lower. There is no trace of self-belief in that locker room.

Happy Thanksgiving. This is rock bottom.

No more secret sauce: Are Cowboys the worst team in the NFL?

There's no way to sugarcoat this mess anymore, the Cowboys are a bad team.

This week, you'll likely hear a lot about how the Cowboys still have their fate in their own hands, about how Dak Prescott can still lead this team to the playoffs, about how the Cowboys could still run the table, or how a win next week against the Redskins can put them back into the playoff race.

Forget about all of that. The Cowboys are not making the playoffs this year. This is not a team that can suddenly go 5-0 down the stretch. Because contrary to what the Cowboys have said in the past, they have no secret sauce - or it's all used up.

The fall continues for the Cowboys with third straight blowout loss

Grading the team’s performance after a terrible loss

[F]or the second time in three years a Cowboy’s team many projected to compete for a Super Bowl has seen their season effectively end on Thanksgiving Day. A third consecutive blowout loss against the Los Angeles Charges ended any realistic chances of a post-season. Rather than contemplating playoff match-ups fans will spend the rest of the season evaluating players and thinking about future draft picks. Sigh

Dallas has been outscored 92-22 the last three weeks. After halftime the Cowboys have been outscored 71-6. Thursday Dallas gave up 515 yards of offense and forced exactly zero punts, sacks or turnovers. The offense went 10 consecutive quarters without scoring a touchdown, something that has never happened in the 57-year history of the team. The Cowboys offense netted less than 250 yards for the third consecutive week. Only the Chargers’ kicking woes due to an injured place-kicker stopped this game from being a bigger blowout than it was. It was a third straight butt-kicking in every phase of the game.

Jason Garrett seems to have no idea how to stop this runaway train of failure. This also happened in 2015 when another Cowboys team expected to be a Super Bowl contender instead lost 12 of the team’s final 14 games. That time Garrett had no answers when Tony Romo went down with injury. This is three consecutive abysmal performances; if things don’t change over the next few weeks I expect the front office will give a change at head coach serious consideration.

The misery continues for Dak Prescott. He spent the first half throwing three yards downfield regardless of down or distance. He had 18 passing yards at halftime. He spent the second half alternating between making a few plays and either throwing bad picks or missing wildly on open receivers for two-point conversions. He threw a terrible, back-breaking pick-six that officially ended the game. That’s the fourth time this season opponents have scored as a result of a Prescott interception or fumble... He’s been very bad three consecutive games....

Right now I’m not sure the Cowboys have a single above-average player at the skill positions. Dez certainly isn’t among the top 15 #1 wideouts in the league. I doubt Terrance Williams is among the top 15 #2 receivers. And Jason Witten may be a future Hall of Famer but he’s only a marginal threat in today’s game.

Dez Bryant’s struggles continue and he’s a shell of the player who terrorized defenses from 2012-2014. He simply can’t get open and leads the league in drops.

Demarcus Lawrence was arguably Defensive Player of the Year over the first half of the season; lately he’s been completely invisible. David Irving didn’t make a single notable play Thursday. The two combined for 0 sacks, 0 pass deflections, 0 tackles for loss and one tackle against the Chargers. Irving has recorded one assist for a tackle the last two games; otherwise he hasn’t made a single play. No one else on the defensive line made an impression.

The Cowboys have recorded zero sacks the last two games and only one over the three-game losing streak. The same is true of turnovers; none in the last two games and only one over the last three games.

With the defensive line no longer getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks the Cowboys secondary has been revealed as no better than replacement-level players. Phillip Rivers dropped back 33 times and threw for 434 yards; that’s 13.2 yards per attempt. No team will win when the opposing quarterback can throw for 13 yards ever time he drops back.

The 2013 Dallas Cowboys defense was historically bad. One reason was teams could easily convert third downs because the Dallas secondary had no one who could adequately cover one-on-one. This 2017 defense looks very similar. Teams that have a good (not great, good) quarterback and a good receiver are able to play pitch and catch all day. Thursday it was Rivers and Keenan Allen, who netted 172 yards on 14 targets and abused everyone who tried to cover him.

That’s Orlando Scandrick, Jeff Heath, Byron Jones, Xavier Woods and Anthony Brown all missing tackles after Allen cleanly beat Scandrick for yet another easy catch from Rivers. Not one of the group looks like an actual NFL starter at this point. The decision to jettison Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, and Barry Church may have made long-term sense, but right now the Dallas secondary is completely helpless.

Eighteen days ago the Cowboys won their third consecutive game to reach 5-3 and put themselves in position for a late-season playoff push. Now you have to wonder what kind of changes will be coming. The fact the failures have been sustained for three consecutive weeks across every unit on the team is the most disconcerting fact.

If the problem was the offensive line or the failure to get turnovers or the inability to run the ball...individually those are manageable problems that can be addressed. What do you do when every unit has regressed and fails to play to expectations? Those are leadership issues.

I’ve long maintained Jason Garrett’s greatest attribute is his development of a winning culture. A culture where expectations are clearly defined, players are held accountable; everyone from superstars to special teamers to coaches and trainers are committed to a single purpose.

That simply isn’t happening right now. This is a team in disarray.

Dallas Cowboys: The curious release of Darren McFadden

After keeping him on the roster for 12 weeks, the Dallas Cowboys released veteran running back Darren McFadden on Sunday. But why now?

This season has shined a giant spotlight on the Dallas Cowboys lack of depth and development on their roster. Flaws in how they evaluate talent, both in free agency and the draft, have become major concerns. And this latest move, simply releasing Darren McFadden in Week 12 instead of trading him away or releasing him earlier is the latest misstep that should force the Cowboys to re-evaluate their entire front office, coaches and staff this offseason.

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame Game-Enshrinees' Gold Jacket Dinner Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Poll

On a 5-point scale, where 5 is the highest, rank your level of respect for Jerry Jones.

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    5
    (15 votes)
  • 4%
    4
    (11 votes)
  • 8%
    3
    (21 votes)
  • 7%
    2
    (19 votes)
  • 19%
    1
    (46 votes)
  • 52%
    0
    (126 votes)
238 votes total Vote Now