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"Coaching is really to get players to do what they don’t want to do to achieve what they want to achieve"
--Tom Landry
Getting to the Heart of the Giants – Cowboys Battle

On paper where no games are ever played, it is difficult to tell the difference between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. On the offensive and defensive sides of the ball there are eerily similar strengths and weaknesses and both teams leave much to be desired relative to making plays on special teams. A look more deeply however reveals a stark reminder of what’s to come on Sunday night.

The quarterbacks in this matchup could build a hall of fame resume if they could face these opposing secondaries on a weekly basis. There is nothing to fear in Aaron Ross, Prince Amukamara and Corey Webster and the Giants safeties have not added much to the defense either.

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Jerry Jones: The Great Equalizer

Jerry Jones can boast three rings and the second most valuable franchise in the world second only to Manchester United. He is the GM, Owner, Marketer in Chief and at times court jester for the Dallas Cowboys. He’s a man of many titles and a man everyone in the room wants to be near. He also is the most powerful owner in sports and his most impressive feat is how he keeps a good Cowboys team from succeeding and the poorest Cowboy teams from completely failing. He is the great Equalizer and is deserving of much more criticism than he gets and he already gets a healthy share.

It is easy to rehash his terrible hand in the exits of Gailey, Parcells, and Johnson which are the only three quality head coaches this team has had since this teams’ greatest coach of all time Landry was dismissed.  However, a trip down that memory lane isn’t necessary because there is plenty of fruit from the Garrett tree to pick. Jerry is truly what ails the Garrett-led Dallas Cowboys of 2011.

Jerry’s selection of Rob Ryan for defensive coordinator was one of the worst decisions of the Jones tenure. It has nothing to do with hindsight and how poorly the defense is playing or the mismatch in coaching personality and philosophy between Garrett and Ryan. The reason this was a stupid and absolutely moronic hire is because he put the Cowboys in a trap.

Ryan openly states his desire to be a head coach and the curse is that if he is as successful as Jones wants him to be, he will be gone in one year with the rest of the defensive coaching staff. If he is not successful, that you are stuck with a coach who can’t make lemonade from the meager talent on the Cowboys defense. Essentially, Jones ushered in the Garrett era with all Garrett’s youth, commitment to discipline and calculating approach and dropped a clown right in the middle of Garrett’s message to his team.

It’s funny to see how easily Jones can be swayed by a shining new object. The play of McNabb early on made Jones leap for Quincy Carter. Much the same with the play of Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald prompting a move for Roy Williams. I can hear Jones now saying “I want me one of those”. Now with the popularity and success of Rex Ryan and his defense, Jones once again went out and got him one of those in the form of Rex’s brother. However, there is no Newman Island and if there was, it is newman that is stuck on it.

Jones previously neutered Campo and Phillips on the job and he now is inching towards that territory again with Garrett. Jones routinely short-circuits Garrett’s authority by giving the injury and playing status updates for various players either in his interviews or in his weekly radio show. There is no other owner or GM that carries that function.
His non-endorsement and veiled critiques of his coach after the New England and Detroit games are just par for the Jones course at Valley Ranch but his worst offense came on Sunday against the Eagles when Romo injured his hand. I can’t understand any rationale for hiring a leader that you have to babysit and that’s exactly what Jones did. His need to “converse” with Garrett on the sideline in regards to Romo’s playing status after the injury is an ultimate embarrassment to Garrett and the first building block for Garrett to exit out of this overrated opportunity to coach. Jones seems to alternate hiring strong and then weak coaches so he can get his hands-on fix for a few years and then relinquish some of the reins for a while. Strangely this time around, he went back to back with the neutered model which could be signifying his ascent to the Al Davis role of being hands-on and at the same time tone-deaf to the needs of the team.

Jerry’s ability to keep a good team down and a bad team competitive is mostly from one simple fact. He never understood and still doesn’t get this key point: Indiscriminately adding talent will not provide a foundation for a team that will go to the Super Bowl. Jerry can draft the Dez Bryants, Anthony Spencers and Felix Jones’ all day long but they cannot overcome the poor and cancerous play of a Leonard Davis, Martellus Bennett or Terrell Owens.
As soon as Jones realizes that talent acquisition is more of a strategic process than a competitive one, the Cowboys will be better positioned to compete for Super Bowls. For now, fans can continue to argue for and against Jones citing great picks such as Ware and Lee and poor picks like Beuhler and the entire 2009 draft. In the end, fans and the team always find themselves stuck right in the middle.

Jerry Jones is as likable of an owner as one can find and he is always accountable which is commendable. However, his thirst for control and having the best “house on the block” (or TV screen) is a Cowboy killer. This thirst keeps his coaches in his shadow, the draft picks random, and each Sunday performance a beautiful masterpiece of supreme success and failure oftentimes in the same game. For the Cowboys, it means yet another season of the rollercoaster that starts and ends in the same place when the playoffs begin: exit to your left and find your next ride.