Jerry Jones is mocked by a lot of people for not knowing how to run his franchise and being “senile” ever since Jimmy Johnson was head coach in the 1990s. In many cases the Cowboys have been laughable since the 1990s, with a few bright spots (including a 12-4 record two seasons ago that led everyone to wonder what a catch was). A lot of the heat from the down times fell on Jerry Jones because he was the owner and general manager of America’s Team. He deserved some criticism, although to what point is up for debate. The fact of the matter is that Jerry’s Cowboys have failed, but this season Jones has done something that has helped his team. His dealings with the media this season have been perfectly executed and has enabled a rookie quarterback to overtake the starting job from an injured fan favorite.
Phase One: “This is Tony’s Team”
Tony Romo was injured in the preseason, leaving Dallas and the Cowboys’ fans to worry. They had not played well without the injured quarterback the year before and they had a fourth round NFL Draft pick backing him up. This fourth round pick was a player that the Cowboys took as a last resort. They really wanted Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook in the draft, but were beaten to the punch by teams trading to pick ahead of them. When the pick number 135 came around the Cowboys took Dak Prescott, a guy they likely never thought they would have to take.
Jones had to reiterate time and time again that his team was Tony’s team, but that he had confidence in Prescott to do well while Romo was out.
Prescott took his opportunity and ran with it. He had already impressed in the preseason, but showed he was capable of holding the prestigious position of Dallas Cowboys’ starting quarterback through the first seven games of the season. He lost his first start and struggled against the Eagles in week eight, but overall exceeded any expectations anyone could have for a rookie quarterback. His performance at the end of the game against the Eagles, where he led them to a win in overtime, the tides turn for fans who loved Tony Romo as the starting quarterback of the Cowboys. Prescott effectively showed he could take a punch to the jaw, like a slow start, and bounce back to help his team win a game. Through the Philadelphia game, Prescott had nine touchdown passes, two interceptions and a 6-1 record.
How did Jones help the cause here? He took the pressure off of Prescott by saying that it was Tony’s team. This was a simple step, but remember this was the man who reportedly had Johnny Manziel’s draft card in his hand, before his son Stephen had to pry it from him. Prescott could go into the first weeks of his career as a Cowboy and let loose, because deep down he knew he had nothing to lose. Romo was going to be the quarterback when he came back, so Prescott could play with a clear mind.
Phase Two: “We’ve got a great luxury, a wonderful problem to have.”
After beating the browns to go 8-1 on the season, Jones used this quote to answer the question of who would be the quarterback when Romo returned from injury.
Prescott played well for the Cowboys, and many people felt he should be the starter, but nothing was official yet. He had just beaten the Browns, which shouldn’t have been a surprise, but the perception of Romo-lovers had changed over the past couple of weeks. He now put Dallas in a great position to make the playoffs and at the very least, finish the season above .500, something that wasn’t a reality the last time Romo was hurt. He had won most of the team over and looked to be a great leader with composure.
This quote on the situation showed how much Prescott had done for the Cowboys, while at the same time should have been a confidence booster (if he even needed one). He had successfully made it a quarterback controversy in the eyes of Jones, one of the most loyal Romo supporters of them all. This was no small feat, as Romo is one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.
Phase 3- “You’d have to be outstanding to have Tony on the bench and backing up, but he has been.”
Prescott finally won over Jerry Jones. Jones had more love for Romo than most Americans have for turkey on Thanksgiving, making what Prescott did, a huge feat.
The genius of how Jerry Jones handled the media is shown by his ability to start off by taking the pressure off of Prescott and then boosting his confidence as the season has gone on. This created the perfect environment for Prescott to grow and lead his team to a stellar start.
So most of the time Jones is mocked for how he has handled the franchise since the 1990s, but giving credit where credit is due needs to happen here. Prescott is the one thriving on the field, but Jones created the environment for him to succeed.
“From Our House to Yours”