Dallas Cowboys: Jimmy Johnson

In the 20 years since Jimmy Johnson left, Jerry Jones has had six head coaches. For some reason, Jones still can’t get over the breakup.

Johnson
Johnson
And that is why Johnson, who led the Dallas Cowboys to a pair of Super Bowls, will probably never get into the Ring of Honor.

"In the Ring of Honor, the last word is honor," Jones said after Thursday’s preseason game. "And so you have to give that some thought and we have to look at the definition.

"Tex Schramm told me the definition is someone who made a material difference in where the franchise is. It didn’t have in there Super Bowl-winning coaches.

"It said, somebody that has made a difference in the franchise. And so that will always be a debate."

Really?

It’s hard to believe Jones has to think about whether Johnson made a material impact on the franchise.

He did.

It would make more sense if Jones simply said he didn’t like Johnson and didn’t want him in the Ring of Honor.

Johnson helped take a broken franchise to a championship as the Cowboys went from 1-15 to two-time Super Bowl champs in five seasons.

"Can you get over disloyalty and the understanding of what disloyalty is? Can you get over those items you’re talking about," Jones said. "Let me just say this: A lot of people had to get over a lot of things to get in a lot of Halls of Fame.

"We debate this all of the time. When was the last time they put a perfect one in a Ring of Honor or a Hall of Fame? I haven’t seen one."

Jones didn’t say he would never change his mind about putting Johnson in the Ring of Honor, but it’s clearly not happening anytime soon.

Cowboys' top plays: Aikman to Harper

July, 7, 2014
Jul 7
10:00
AM ET
Alvin Harper and Troy AikmanUSA TODAY Sports
» VOTE HERE » NFC Plays: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

This is one of three finalists for the most memorable plays in team history. In the next two days we’ll include the sack of Bob Griese by Bob Lilly in Super Bowl VI and Roger Staubach’s Hail Mary touchdown pass to Drew Pearson in the 1975 playoffs against the Minnesota Vikings. Please vote for your choice as the Cowboys’ most memorable play.

Score: Cowboys 30, 49ers 20
Date: Jan. 17, 1993 Site: Candlestick Park

If you’re looking for the moment the Dallas Cowboys took over as the best team in football in the 1990s, this was it.

SportsNation

Which is the most memorable play in Cowboys' history?

  •  
    57%
  •  
    36%
  •  
    7%

Discuss (Total votes: 38,414)

With San Francisco scoring a touchdown to cut the Dallas lead to 24-20 with 4:22 to go in the NFC Championship Game, Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson told offensive coordinator Norv Turner to attack. On the first play of the ensuing drive and with the 49ers expecting a run, Troy Aikman connected with Alvin Harper on a 70-yard completion.

That Harper caught the pass was something of a surprise. He lined up to Aikman’s left only because Michael Irvin switched positions. Having run the play a few times earlier in the game, Aikman had thrown to Harper in the slot. Once he heard the play called in the huddle, Irvin switched to the slot believing the ball would come to him with the game and season on the line.

Seeing a blitz before the snap, Aikman knew the ball had to go to Harper on a slant quickly. The receiver won at the line of scrimmage and sprinted to the 49ers 9-yard line before getting tackled.

Three plays later, Aikman found Kelvin Martin for the game-clinching touchdown and the Cowboys had earned their first Super Bowl trip since 1978.

Two weeks later, the Cowboys would win their first of three championships in a four-year span by whipping the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII, but the Aikman-to-Harper pass is the moment when the Jimmy Johnson Cowboys arrived.

The play signified Johnson’s willingness to take a chance when other coaches would have run the ball to kill the clock, especially on the road. Going to Harper in a big moment showed Aikman’s precision as a passer and decision-maker.

Aikman-to-Harper didn’t end in a touchdown, but it did spark a Super Bowl run that had been unmatched up to that point.

.

Status has its privileges

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
4:35
PM ET
IRVING, Texas – Back in the day American Express made famous the slogan, “Membership has its privileges.”

It was that iconic ad that popped into my head when I saw the picture of Tony Romo and Jason Witten in Jerry Jones’ suite at AT&T Stadium Monday night at the NCAA men’s basketball final with Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Running back DeMarco Murray was also in the suite, but not in the much-circulated photo.

I tweaked the ad some: status has its privileges.

New SEC Network hire and former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears sparked debate on Twitter Monday and it continued on Tuesday. Spears wondered if teammates of Romo and Witten would be upset to see them hanging with the presidents and celebrities.

Spears has a point, but if Cam Lawrence or Ronald Leary were upset Romo, Witten and Murray were in the suite, oh well. Should I be upset Chris Berman gets to play in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am every year and I don't? Oh well.

Status has its privileges in any line of work. Those three have status, especially Witten and Romo, and we don’t know who else was invited to sit in the power suite to see Connecticut beat Kentucky but unable to attend for whatever reason.

Witten and Romo have been with the Cowboys since 2003. Witten has been to the Pro Bowl nine times. He was named the NFL’s Man of the Year in 2012. Romo owns most of the Cowboys’ passing records and has been to three Pro Bowls. Jones has showed his faith in the quarterback by signing him to two big-time contract extensions. Murray is coming off his first Pro Bowl season.

As teams go, not all players are created equally. Jimmy Johnson didn’t treat Troy Aikman the same as he treated a third-string safety. Bill Parcells treated “his guys” differently than the other guys.

Too many people believe professional sports are entirely different than an office you or I may work in. There is office politics everywhere.

You like some people. You’re OK with some people. You distance yourself from some people. You loathe some people. But you do your job for the common good, be it winning football games or producing widgets.

It can be safely assumed Witten, Romo and Murray were invited by Jones to the suite. He’s the boss. He’s the guy who signs the checks. You have a chance to talk with Presidents Bush and Clinton and some other celebrity folks, would you say no to your boss because the guy in the next cubicle didn’t get invited?

Of course you wouldn’t.

To me, the question is should Jones have put those three guys in position to be perceived as above their teammates in a public way? I doubt the question even crossed Jones’ mind and I’m not sure it even needed to cross it. He was simply making a kind gesture to three of his top players -- and maybe more -- and they took him up on the offer.

If there are players that are upset, then, well, they’ll just have to get over it. But they should also realize Witten, Romo, who is also rehabbing from back surgery, and Murray have been working out at Valley Ranch well before the official start of the offseason program on April 21.

That’s what should matter most to them.

Like just about everything with the Cowboys, perception overrules reality. The perception of the photo might tell one story, but it doesn’t mean it’s the whole story.

The end of Jerry and Jimmy

March, 29, 2014
Mar 29
4:00
PM ET
This has been a year of anniversaries around the Cowboys.

It's the 25-year anniversary of Jerry Jones buying the team and today is the 20th anniversary of the departure of coach Jimmy Johnson after two Super Bowl titles.

Jones was asked about his thoughts on the anniversary.

"It's so funny," Jones began. "In the NFL, and I'll show you guys one of these days, the agreement and show you guys the dynamics behind the agreement, ya'll need to see that. Somebody start saying that in the NFL that the ultimate decision maker is not the owner, they need to come read the rules of the NFL. If it so happen, the GM is the owner, and then you got the coach, then the ultimate decision maker is obvious and that's by the bylaws of the NFL."

One of the biggest disputes between Johnson and Jones was who deserved credit for the success of the franchise. They both deserve it, but the egos of the pair were too much to overcome.

"So if it came down to a you know what contest between me and a coach because of that agreement of something written down or something perceived to have been written down, it's not worth the paper it's written on," Jones said. "On who makes the call, relative to the owner, if that were an issue. But the piece of paper is not even an issue. The most ridiculous thing that others knew about a trade before I did, when they couldn't make a trade, until I made it. Period. No such thing. You couldn't make a draft pick, it was ridiculous."

Tim Cowlishaw, who covered the Cowboys during the Jones-Johnson era for the Dallas Morning News, does a radio show on ESPN Dallas affiliate 103.3 FM. Cowlishaw said he tried to get Johnson on the radio on Friday afternoon to speak about the breakup.

Johnson declined.

Jerry Jones' top five moments

February, 27, 2014
Feb 27
10:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Tuesday marked the 25th anniversary of Jerry Jones’ purchase of the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Stadium for $140 million.

The highs have been high, but the lows have been low, especially since the Cowboys last won a Super Bowl in the 1995 season.

Here we will look at Jones’ top five moments as the Cowboys' owner and general manager while realizing that a large segment of the fandom will not give him any credit for what happened in the early years when Jimmy Johnson was around.

1. How do you like those Super Bowls?

[+] EnlargeJerry Jones
AP Photo/Charles KrupaOwner Jerry Jones and coach Jimmy Johnson celebrate their 30-13 win over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVIII on Jan. 30, 1994, in Atlanta.
The Cowboys won three titles in Jones’ first seven years as owner. They became the first team to win three Super Bowls in a four-year span, becoming the team of the 1990s with the Triplets -- Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith -- becoming household names. The Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII by a combined score of 82-30. They claimed Super Bowl XXX with Barry Switzer as coach by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17, exacting some revenge for the ‘70s Cowboys who could not beat Terry Bradshaw & Co.

2. Hiring Jimmy Johnson

Jones expressed regret Sunday about the rushed nature of firing legendary coach Tom Landry, but there is no doubt he made the right decision in bringing his former college teammate Johnson with him to the Cowboys. Johnson was the best coach in college football at the time at the University of Miami and brought a brashness that took the NFL by storm. The Cowboys suffered greatly in 1989 by going 1-15, but by Johnson’s second year they were competing for a playoff spot in the final week of the season and winning a playoff game by the third year. By Year No. 4, Johnson had his first of two straight Super Bowl wins. It ended badly between Jones and Johnson, wrecking what could have been a history-making era because of the egos of the owner and the coach.

3. The trade of all trades

This is where the Jimmy and Jerry camps will always be divided. If you were a Jimmy guy, he engineered the trade of Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings. If you were a Jerry guy, he had the final say. Regardless of who you want to credit, the moment is in Jones’ era as owner and is among his biggest moments. The Walker trade brought about the formation of the Super Bowl teams. The Cowboys received five players and eight picks, turning those picks into Smith, Alvin Harper, Dixon Edwards and Darren Woodson. It might be the best trade in NFL history.

4. A new home

At $2.1 billion, there is no stadium like AT&T Stadium. This will be the monument Jones leaves whenever he is no longer the owner and general manager of the team. To get the stadium built, Jones acquiesced to a degree by bringing in Bill Parcells as coach in 2003 after three straight 5-11 finishes. With Parcells and the coach’s two Super Bowl wins, Jones could show people he was serious about winning and changing his ways. The stadium is unmatched in the NFL, if not the world, with its nightclub-type feel, center-hung digital board, retractable roof and sliding doors. The Cowboys might not have the same home-field advantage they had at Texas Stadium, but the stadium has delivered a Super Bowl, an NBA All-Star Game, numerous concerts and the upcoming Final Four.

5. Trading for Charles Haley

Again, this will divide the Jimmy and Jerry camps, but Haley was the piece to the puzzle who got the Cowboys over the top. It weakened the Cowboys’ biggest rival at the time, the San Francisco 49ers, and brought the Dallas defense an attitude it lacked. The signing of Deion Sanders in 1995 also weakened the Niners, but Haley brought two titles -- if not the third, as well. The drafting of Smith, No. 17 overall, was another top moment with him becoming the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. But Haley’s arrival brought to Dallas what the fans want most: Super Bowls.

A bright side for Cowboys fans?

February, 11, 2014
Feb 11
1:30
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- It is difficult for fans of the Dallas Cowboys to feel good about much these days.

I will try to offer up something: At least the Cowboys are not the Cleveland Browns.

It seems 'dysfunction' is not a word the Cowboys can claim exclusively.

For as screwy as the structure at Valley Ranch can seem under owner and general manager Jerry Jones, at least you know it is screwy from the get go.

On Tuesday, the Browns announced CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi have been replaced and named Ray Farmer as general manager. This came after a coaching search that took forever and saw several coaches turn down the job. Even more interesting, Farmer was not in the head coaching interviews that landed Mike Pettine as the replacement for Rob Chudzinski, who was fired after one year. So how secure does that make Pettine feel?

Perhaps Cowboys special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, who interviewed for the Browns’ vacancy that went to Pettine, was able to see some of the Cleveland dysfunction.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said being an owner does not come with a manual and he "underestimated" the job. Jones was an outsider when he purchased the Cowboys in 1989 and worked without a manual, too.

He had some missteps in how he handled the Tom Landry firing, but he got it right by hiring Jimmy Johnson as head coach.

By 1992, the Cowboys won their first of three Super Bowls in Jones' first seven years as owner.

It’s been nothing but .500 football for the Cowboys for more than just the past three seasons. They have two playoff wins since winning Super Bowl XXX.

Jones has made several head-scratching moves over the years and over the past few months. Keeping offensive coordinator Bill Callahan after Scott Linehan was added as passing game coordinator to call the plays is one. So too is inventing a position for demoted defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who is now the assistant head coach/defense.

The one decision just about everybody wants Jones to make -- Hire a football guy, Jerry!!!! -- he will not make.

Jones can look at how Haslam has handled the Browns as an example as to why the Cowboys’ structure works best. Very little happens at Valley Ranch without Jones’s OK.

So as you try to fight through another 8-8 finish and see your team unable to do much in upcoming free agency because of salary-cap trouble, just remember it could be worse. You could be rooting for the Browns.

But don’t look too closely. The Browns had six players in the Pro Bowl, have about $45 million in cap space, according to reports, and have five picks in the top three rounds of the May draft, including two first-rounders.

Maybe things aren’t so bad in Cleveland.
IRVING, Texas -- Maybe there is a different way to look at Jerry Jones' decision to keep Jason Garrett as the Dallas Cowboys' head coach for a fourth season.

Maybe the owner is aware the general manager has not delivered enough for the head coach to have more than an 8-8 record. Bill Parcells used to say the goal was to get his team to play to the level that he perceived it to be.

[+] EnlargeJason Garrett and Jerry Jones
AP Photo/Gus RuelasJerry Jones must allow Jason Garrett more control of his own fate.
Could Jones be conceding he has not done enough for Garrett, despite his statements that the Cowboys had a chance to not only make the playoffs but make a run to the Super Bowl as well? It requires you to believe Jones separates the owner job description from the general manager job description, but it is not that far-fetched.

Late in the season, Jones mentioned the team lacked the personnel in some key spots because of injuries. Of the 12 regulars -- including the nickel corner -- on defense, seven were in their projected spots when training camp began in the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne essentially flipped roles. George Selvie, Nick Hayden, DeVonte Holloman, Kyle Wilber and Jeff Heath were starters.

Perhaps Garrett maximized the 8-8 finish this year and last year because of injuries.

In his address to the media Monday, Garrett repeated the statement he made after the 2012 season ended in a Week 17 loss in an NFC East title game: it takes time to build a program. While he acknowledged wins and losses matter most, he failed to recognize the guy he lost to last week, Chip Kelly, was in his first year and took over a 4-12 team. Mike McCoy brought the San Diego Chargers to the playoffs in his first year. Andy Reid took the Kansas City Chiefs to the postseason after they had the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft.

Jones has a lot invested in Garrett beyond money. He believes in how Garrett is building the team and how he prepares the team. Quibble about the execution, but players' effort has not been an issue with Garrett as coach. Jones wants Garrett to be his long-term coach. If Garrett finishes out 2014, only Jimmy Johnson will have coached the Cowboys longer under Jones.

Jones is right to bring back Garrett in 2014.

What he needs to do now is allow Garrett more control of his own fate. If Garrett wants to call plays, then let Garrett call plays. If Garrett wants to change the defensive coordinator, then let him, and if he doesn't want to replace Monte Kiffin, Garrett will only be hurting himself.

Jones made sure everybody was "uncomfortable" in 2013 and it produced the same 8-8 record. He wanted Bill Callahan to call plays. He wanted Kiffin. He wanted Tony Romo more involved in the offense. He wanted Garrett to become a walk-around head coach.

Much will be made of Garrett's lame-duck status in 2014 but if he doesn't win, then he shouldn't get an extension.

The pressure will be good.

It's time Jones is "uncomfortable." At least a little bit anyway.

Cowboys leaned on backup QBs before

December, 26, 2013
12/26/13
10:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas – With the season on the line, the Dallas Cowboys most likely will have to rely on backup QB Kyle Orton to deliver a victory Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles because starter Tony Romo is battling an injured back.

It won't be the first time the Cowboys have needed a backup up to deliver in the Jerry Jones era.

[+] EnlargeKyle Orton
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsThe Cowboys may look to backup Kyle Orton to keep their postseason hopes alive.
In 1990, the Cowboys faced a win-and-in scenario without Troy Aikman because of a knee injury and turned to Babe Laufenberg against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Cowboys lost 26-7. Laufenberg completed 10 of 24 passes for 129 yards with two interceptions, including one that was returned by Deion Sanders 61 yards for a touchdown. Laufenberg was also sacked three times in his first start of the season.

"It still bothers you," said Laufenberg, who is the sports director at KTVT in Dallas and in his 21st year as the color analyst for the Cowboys radio network. "This time of season, it's like the death of your mother when the anniversary comes up. Seriously. It still bothers you. Now that was my last game, too, as it turned out."

If Romo is unable to play, Orton will make his first start for Dallas and the 70th of his career. Orton is 35-34 as a starter but has not started a game since the 2011 season finale with the Kansas City Chiefs. He is in his second season with the Cowboys.

While Laufenberg's memories are not positive, the Cowboys have had backups deliver for them in big moments before.

In 1991, the season after Laufenberg's start, Steve Beuerlein replaced an injured Aikman and won his four regular-season starts as the Cowboys finished 11-5 and made the playoffs for the first time since 1985. He also helped the Cowboys win their first road playoff game since 1980 when they beat the Chicago Bears in the wild-card round.

In the regular-season game in which Aikman hurt his knee, Beuerlein connected on a touchdown pass to Michael Irvin in the fourth quarter, and Dallas beat the then-undefeated Washington Redskins 24-21. He finished the regular season with five touchdown passes and two interceptions.

What changed for the Cowboys in Aikman's absence was the increased workload of RB Emmitt Smith. He carried the ball at least 25 times in each of Beuerlein's starts and had at least 109 rushing yards in three of the games. The defense also played its best, allowing more than 14 points just once in Beuerlein's four starts.

In 1993, the Cleveland Browns cut QB Bernie Kosar for "diminishing skills." The Cowboys, led by coach Jimmy Johnson, signed Kosar two days later – and four days later he delivered a 20-15 Dallas win against the Phoenix Cardinals. With Aikman out (hamstring) and the offense sluggish under backup Jason Garrett, Johnson turned to Kosar. Kosar completed 13 of 21 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown.

A week later, he made his only Cowboys start, a 27-14 loss to the Falcons. He completed 22 of 39 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns.

The Cowboys would lose only one more game that season – the famous ice game on Thanksgiving against the Miami Dolphins – before winning Super Bowl XXVIII.

Garrett had his moment in the sun in the Thanksgiving game in 1994. With Aikman and Rodney Peete out, Garrett outdueled Brett Favre, throwing for 311 yards and two touchdowns as the Cowboys put up 36 second-half points to beat the Green Bay Packers 42-31.

While that game is often remembered, Garrett also had a 6-3 record as a starter with the Cowboys.

"Shoot, you live for that," Laufenberg said. "I just hate [hearing], ‘Ah, backup quarterback is the best job in the world.' Ask them. Ask Jason. All you want to do is play."

'Not fun for anybody' or country club?

November, 20, 2013
11/20/13
10:15
AM ET
If Will Allen is right, that means Jimmy Johnson was wrong.

Allen’s description of the problems that plague the Dallas Cowboys completely contradict Johnson’s criticism of a country club atmosphere at Valley Ranch. Heck, Johnson might consider Allen’s issues with the Cowboys to be a sign of progress.

During a Tuesday appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Allen used phrases such as “very micromanaged atmosphere” and “very tight” and cited a lack of “the relationship and the bonding between players and coaches” for creating a vibe at Valley Ranch that’s “not fun for anybody.” He was talking about the 2013 Cowboys, the team that employed him for the first four weeks of the season, but all those phrases would have fit Jimmy’s 1991 team, too.

Johnson, who ripped the Cowboys in recent years for coddling players, would probably be proud to hear Jason Garrett described as tough and combative. Maybe the former third-string quarterback wasn't just taking notes for no reason while picking Jimmy’s brain, when all the two-time Super Bowl championship coach really wanted to do was drink beer and catch a few fish during those recent visits in Florida.

Garrett needs results to justify keeping his job, but he at least deserves credit for creating a culture of accountability at Valley Ranch, which requires a head coach who is willing to make difficult decisions. Allen was a victim of that, getting cut because he was viewed as a progress stopper for young safeties J.J. Wilcox and Jeff Heath.

It’s fair to question whether the Cowboys would have been better off keeping Allen after watching Heath, an undrafted rookie, end up on the highlight reels of Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Drew Brees when filling in for an injured Wilcox the past few games. Maybe the 10-year veteran’s calming presence in the locker room could have had some value as the defense faced adversity, which is a polite way of saying “stunk up the joint.”

But it’s misguided to point to the lack of warm fuzzies from the coaching staff as the reason for the Cowboys’ extended run of mediocrity. What about Wade Phillips’ back-patting tenure?

Johnson’s comparison to a country club aimed higher than the coaching staff. That was an indirect shot at Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ owner/general manager/enabler. Garrett would never put it this way, but he’s gone to great lengths to change a dysfunctional culture, created in large part by Jones.

Really, though, the Cowboys’ biggest problems aren't about the coaches’ micromanaging or coddling players. This team simply isn't as talented as the stars at the top of the roster -- and those on the iconic helmets -- tend to make people believe.

That’s an issue that falls at the feet of the general manager with the most job security in the NFL, the man who couldn't coexist with a coach coming off back-to-back Super Bowl championships. You can't credibly discuss why there hasn't been a lot of fun at Valley Ranch for quite some time without blaming the boss.

Cowboys tracker: Jason Garrett

July, 29, 2013
7/29/13
9:30
AM ET
OXNARD, Calif. -- Jason Garrett does not wear a GPS device at practice, but the Dallas Cowboys head coach has been tilting more to the defensive side of the ball during training camp.

PODCAST
Cowboys rookie Travis Frederick joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest from training camp in Oxnard, Calif.

Listen Listen
Having given up the play-calling duties this year, Garrett has been spending more time evaluating the defense and special teams than he did in his first two years as the head coach. He is even taking some quarterback snaps in walk-throughs.

He has become that walk-around head coach Jimmy Johnson urged him to be after taking the job.

Players at every position group have noticed when the coach is around, too. He will offer the finer points to wide receivers on using their hands to get away from defenders, and to defensive backs on what a quarterback is looking for.

“I’ve always tried to be on every part of the practice field through every practice,” Garrett said. “Typically in the past it had been in the individual periods I was over with the defense, and then as we got more to the team period I was more involved with the offense. … I am throwing some more drills on defense and what that allows you to do as a coach is get an up close and personal evaluation of the guys in your huddle and the guys you’re going against.

"If you’re trying to execute ball plays, when you’re around the players in a close setting, you get a feel for what they’re all about, the look in their eye, how they respond, if they look confused, if they’re on top of it. It’s been a real good thing for me in terms of providing a little different perspective for evaluations of the guys.”
OXNARD, Calif. -- Jerry Jones isn't quite ready to admit he made a mistake by insisting that Jason Garrett called plays the last two seasons.

But the Cowboys’ owner/general manager hopes the error of his ways will be clear after this year, now that Garrett has given up play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Callahan.

“The answer is, if it works and we break out of this 8-8 cycle on a positive basis, then I will wish that we’d have done it a couple of years earlier,” Jones said.

Jones realized after consecutive 8-8 seasons in Garrett’s first two full years as a head coach that his long-held belief that a head coach should have play-calling duties needed to be reconsidered. Suddenly, Jones decided that employing a “walkaround” head coach wasn’t such a bad idea.

Jimmy Johnson, the most successful Cowboys head coach in Jones’ tenure, tried convincing Jones and Garrett into delegating play-calling duties after Garrett’s promotion. However, Jones valued former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs’ opinion over Johnson’s.

“I felt that when he did become the head coach, the head coach being the coordinator on one side of the ball or the other [was best for the team],” Jones said. “And I’ve said that, and I got that really as much as anybody from Joe Gibbs. But we’ve got a game today that has expanded the scope of things to concentrate on. It’s just more than it was in years past, and we’ll benefit from that [change].”

So, in hindsight, was Jones wrong?

“Not really, because he knew that part of it,” Jones said. “That’s the most comfortable he was in his shoes. I could see where that would be the most comfortable he was, is having and being with the team in an offensive [role], using his knowledge and his background on offense.

“He still uses it, though. He still is obviously in real command of what we’re doing, so we benefit from that. Usually, a head coach has expertise on one side or the other and to some degree is a little bit reliant on the side of the ball that he didn’t spend his position coaching career. He’s usually, I’m not going to say hostage, but he’s counting on that other side of the ball to be pretty much delegated.

“To the extent that Jason with his skills can have better knowledge over on the other side of the ball, we’ll benefit from. And I see that. That’s what I see as our benefit, is that he’ll have and is and will have more attention to the whole picture, and certainly I think that’ll pay off for us in game-planning, game management, all of those areas.”

If it works this season, it’s fair to wonder whether the Cowboys could have made the playoffs the last two years if the owner/general manager – and head coach, for that matter – wasn’t so stubborn on the issue.

Cowboys' Rushmore: Landry, Staubach, Jones, Emmitt

July, 6, 2013
7/06/13
11:30
PM ET
There are plenty of choices for the Dallas Cowboys Mount Rushmore, but we can only pick four. It wasn't easy, but we've narrowed down our list. Does it look like yours? Here's ours:

Tom Landry: He's the George Washington of our Cowboys Mount Rushmore. Landry, with fedora of course, has to be on any monument dedicated to all-time Cowboys greats. One of the greatest coaches of all time, Landry roamed the sidelines from 1960 to 1988 and won two Super Bowls, five NFC titles and 13 division titles. He was an innovator, creating defensive systems that are still mimicked.

Roger Staubach: He led the Cowboys to two Super Bowl titles (and four Super Bowl appearances), won a Heisman Trophy and engineered some memorable comebacks. Staubach set the standard by which all quarterbacks of America's Team are measured.

Jerry Jones: Probably the most controversial of our choices, especially if you consider this club's run of mediocrity since the mid 1990s. But do the Cowboys win three Super Bowls in the 1990s without Jones? He botched the handling of Landry's firing, but he hired Jimmy Johnson as his replacement and watched the team transform back into a champion. He isn't on here as a GM. He's on this monument as an owner.

Emmitt Smith: An argument could be made for any of the "Triplets" and maybe even more than one being on this Cowboys Rushmore. But we chose Smith, the NFL's all-time leading rusher. The Cowboys' ground game was nearly unstoppable during Smith's prime and he was an iron man, playing through injuries and leading by example.

Others considered (in no particular order):

Troy Aikman: Won three Super Bowls and led the club's productive offense. He's one of the greatest QBs in franchise history.

Bob Lilly: The former TCU defensive tackle was the first draft pick in Cowboys history. And it was terrific pick. Lilly was an All-Pro seven times and anchored the "Doomsday Defense."

Michael Irvin: The wide receiver made big plays, clutch scores and certainly fired up his teammates. A part of the "Triplets," Irvin was dynamic.

Tex Schramm: The first GM in Cowboys history helped put together a winning franchise -- hiring Tom Landry and Gil Brandt -- not to mention adding the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and adding many key rules to the NFL. He did a lot for not only the Cowboys, but the league.

Tony Dorsett: If not for Emmitt, he'd be the top running back on this list.

Randy White: The Hall of Famer played in Dallas for more than a decade as one of the best linemen in league history.

Drew Pearson: He's the reason No. 88 carries so much meaning for the Cowboys. He made the big catches and was reliable.

Don Meredith: Dandy Don spent nine seasons with the Cowboys after playing for SMU and was an important leader during the Cowboys' early years.

Jimmy Johnson: Rebuilt the Cowboys into a champion and won two Super Bowls. Barry Switzer won another Super Bowl with the team that Johnson assembled.

Herschel Walker: Seems strange, doesn't it? But without the haul the Cowboys received from Minnesota, do the Cowboys win three Super Bowls?

All-time coaches: Jimmy Johnson No. 13

May, 30, 2013
5/30/13
2:53
PM ET
video
How 'bout them all-time great NFL coaches? Our series looks today at the man who came in at No. 13 in our poll, former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson.

Johnson came from the college ranks, and he brought a college coach's fire and intensity to the NFL. Tabbed by his college buddy Jerry Jones to succeed legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry, Johnson presided over a run of Super Bowl success that burnished the Cowboys' legacy as one of the sport's signature franchises and set a standard to which the team has struggled for nearly two decades now to live up. Former Cowboy Nate Newton offered this as part of his analysis of Johnson's coaching style:
[+] EnlargeJohnson
AP Photo/Charles KrupaJimmy Johnson coached the Cowboys to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1992 and '93.
"Jimmy was a master manipulator. He didn't have to cuss you out or dog you to get you to do what he wanted you to do. He took what you feared most and used it to motivate you.

"Stuff like Michael Irvin's fear of not being able to feed his family. Or Troy Aikman's fear of not being the best quarterback in the league. or Emmitt Smith's fear of not being on the field.

"He used my fear of letting the coach down. You could say anything and it wouldn't faze me, but you cornered me off and got me in a one-on-one situation and made me commit I would do whatever I said I was going to do because you showed faith and trust in me. Jimmy knew that. And he used it."

It's got to be exhausting to coach the way Johnson coached -- devoted to finding the right way to motivate each individual player on a daily basis. He did it to tremendous effect in Dallas, less so with the Dolphins. And while his résumé was strong enough that he likely could have stayed in coaching, he retired at the age of 56 to a comfortable life of TV broadcasting and fishing in the Florida Keys. His legacy as an all-time NFL coaching great rests on the Super Bowl titles he won in Dallas, coaching legends like Aikman, Smith and Irvin. The fact that he had to fight his way out of Landry's shadow to succeed and that the Cowboys really haven't been the same since he left only strengthen his case for the spot he occupies on this list.
IRVING, Texas – Jerry Jones basically bought an ad in the NFL classifieds during Monday’s pre-draft press conference, sending out the message that the Cowboys could be in trade-down mode when they get on the clock with the 18th overall pick.

PODCAST
Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley and Glenn "Stretch" Smith discuss some of the players the Cowboys should be looking at in the upcoming NFL draft.

Listen Listen
That news was met with a lot of moaning and groaning from Cowboys fans.

How can you be adamantly against trading down if you have no idea what the offer might be or which players might be available? Folks just don’t trust GM Jerry.

Should they in this situation? Let’s look at the Cowboys’ history of trading down in the first round during the Jerry era.

1991 -- No. 14 overall (obtained from New Orleans – RB Leonard Russell) to New England for No. 17 overall (traded to Washington – DT Bobby Wilson) and No. 110 overall (DE Kevin Harris).

No. 17 overall (Wilson) to Washington for No. 20 overall (traded to Detroit -- DT Kelvin Pritchett) and No. 132 overall (Darrick Brownlow).

No. 20 overall (Pritchett) to Detroit for No. 37 overall (LB Dixon Edwards), No. 64 overall (G James Richards) and No. 108 overall (DE Tony Hill).

PODCAST
How close were the Cowboys to getting John Elway in 1983? Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss what could have been if John Elway got his wish and was traded to Dallas.

Listen Listen
These three deals have to be judged essentially as one. After all the wheeling and dealing was done, the Cowboys turned the 14th overall pick into a second-round linebacker who started for two Super Bowl title teams (Edwards), a third-round guard who never played an NFL game (Richards), a fourth-round defensive end who played 13 games in two NFL seasons (Hill) and a fifth-round linebacker who made 11 tackles in two separate one-year stints in Dallas (Brownlow).

This was a case of great value on Jimmy Johnson’s trade chart and essentially a push in reality. Russell ended up being a decent running back, rushing for 3,973 yards and 29 touchdowns in his career, and it’s not as if the Cowboys passed on a Hall of Famer who went later in the first round. Edwards contributed to three title teams, starting for two.

This deal would have been a steal if the Cowboys selected offensive tackle Erik Williams at No. 64 overall. They ended up drafting him six picks later.

1993 -- No. 29 overall (S George Teague) and No. 112 overall (Albert Fontenot) to Green Bay for No. 46 overall (WR Kevin Williams), No. 54 overall (LB Darrin Smith), No. 94 overall (RB Derrick Lassic) and No. 213 overall (LB Reggie Givens).

PODCAST
Nate Newton went undrafted in 1983, but he still feels like he was part of one of the greatest draft classes in league history. Newton joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss his draft experience from 30 years ago and his journey to three rings.

Listen Listen
Both of the second-round picks the Cowboys acquired contributed to two Super Bowl title teams. Williams was a quality punt and kick returner who started at receiver for the Cowboys’ last championship team, setting career highs with 38 catches for 613 yards and two touchdowns that season. Smith started all four of his seasons in Dallas.

Teague had a solid nine-year career, but he ended up spending most of that in Dallas anyway. Fontenot also lasted nine NFL seasons, making 81 starts. Lassic lasted 10 games, and Givens never played for the Cowboys.

Give the Cowboys a win for this deal, but it wasn’t lopsided by any measure.

1995 -- No. 28 overall (LB Derrick Brooks) to Tampa Bay for No. 41 overall (traded to Atlanta – DB Ron Davis) and No. 63 overall (OG Shane Hannah).

All Brooks did in Tampa Bay was go to 11 Pro Bowls, be named first-team All-Pro five times, win a Super Bowl and establish himself as one of the best linebackers of his generation.

Hannah started the Cowboys’ tradition of early-round offensive line busts, getting hurt in training camp and never playing a game in the NFL. They flipped Davis for a second-rounder (RB Sherman Williams) and fourth-rounder (TE Eric Bjornson), a couple of backups who combined for 10 career touchdowns.

This might be the worst draft-day deal the Cowboys ever made.

1996 -- No. 30 overall (Andre Johnson) to Washington for No. 37 overall (DE Kavika Pittman) and No. 67 overall (C Clay Shiver).

Pittman made 18 sacks in eight NFL seasons (10 in four seasons for the Cowboys). Shiver started 25 games, but that was evidence of how weak the Cowboys were at center, as he was out of the league after three years.

Johnson was a huge bust for the Redskins. He never played a game in Washington.

The Cowboys would have been better off staying put and drafting Texas product Tony Brackens in the first round. Brackens, picked No. 33 overall by Jacksonville, had 55 sacks and 27 forced fumbles in his eight-year career.

2002 -- No. 6 overall (DT Ryan Sims) to Kansas City for No. 8 overall (SS Roy Williams), No. 75 overall (CB Derek Ross) and a sixth-round pick in 2003 (WR Zuriel Smith).

A couple of Williams’ five Pro Bowl berths were reputation selections after his performance fell off, but he was a dominant force as a playmaking intimidator early in his career. That’s much more than you can say for Sims, who only had one more sack in his career than Williams did.

Ross looked like a steal when he had five picks as a rookie, but the character red flags that caused him to drop into the third round proved true. Bill Parcells got rid of him midway through Ross’ second season. Smith played nine games for the Cowboys, contributing primarily as a return specialist.

This was a good deal for Dallas, just not nearly the steal it seemed destined to be during the rookie seasons of Williams and Ross.

2004 -- No. 22 overall (QB J.P. Losman) to Buffalo for No. 43 overall (RB Julius Jones), No. 144 overall (TE Sean Ryan) and a 2005 first-rounder (DE Marcus Spears).

Spears was a serviceable player for the last eight seasons. Ryan was a nonfactor during his two years in Dallas.

But this deal comes down to Steven Jackson vs. Julius Jones.

The Cowboys decided, based strongly on the input of running backs coach Maurice Carthon, that there wasn’t much difference between the top back on the board and the backs who would be available in the second round.

Jackson has rushed for 10,135 yards and counting, more than twice as many as Jones ran for during his career. Jackson has accounted for 64 touchdowns, almost three times Jones’ total.

Oops.

2007 -- No. 22 overall (QB Brady Quinn) to Cleveland for No. 36 overall (traded to Philadelphia – QB Kevin Kolb) and a 2008 first-rounder (RB Felix Jones).

The Cowboys were tempted to pick Quinn, who they had in the top 10 on their board, but they opted to fully commit to a quarterback with 10 starts under his belt named Tony Romo. Considering that Quinn is with his fourth team and Romo just got $55 million guaranteed, it’s pretty clear that was the right call.

The Cowboys moved back into the first round to select OLB/DE Anthony Spencer, giving up third- and fifth-rounders to do so. No regrets there, with Spencer a solid player coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance and Kolb failing to make an impact in Philadelphia.

This deal would have looked like a stroke of genius if the Cowboys picked Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Ray Rice or Jamaal Charles the next year. Alas, they selected an Arkansas alum to be a change-of-pace back. Felix Jones had some flashes of brilliance, but his Dallas tenure was a pretty big disappointment given the quality of backs picked behind him.

This was still a solid deal for Dallas.

Percentages don't favor Cowboys

April, 24, 2013
4/24/13
10:51
AM ET
IRVING, Texas – On Tuesday I upset some people when I questioned the philosophy the Cowboys chose in 2011 and ’12 to select Tyron Smith and Morris Claiborne.

PODCAST
How close were the Cowboys to getting John Elway in 1983? Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss what could have been if John Elway got his wish and was traded to Dallas.

Listen Listen
I believe they left too much on the table by not taking a trade with Jacksonville in 2011, and then by giving up their second-rounder to move up to get Claiborne. To justify their non-move and move, Smith and Claiborne have to be close to all-world in my view.

I believe the more picks you have, the better off you will be. Jimmy Johnson showed that. But I want to add this obvious nugget: the more early picks (top two rounds), the better off you’ll be.

But that was yesterday’s debate.

So now I present to you the argument as to why many of you believe the Cowboys did the correct thing in staying put for Smith and trading up for Claiborne: The Cowboys struggle drafting.

Since 2007, the Cowboys have drafted 47 players and only 18 remain. That’s not good. After a quick perusal of the NFC East, it’s the worst percentage (38.3%) of any team in the division. From 2007-12, Philadelphia has 28 of 59 picks left (47.5%); Washington has 24 of 48 picks (50%) and the New York Giants have 24 of 46 picks left (52%).

PODCAST
Nate Newton went undrafted in 1983, but he still feels like he was part of one of the greatest draft classes in league history. Newton joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss his draft experience from 30 years ago and his journey to three rings.

Listen Listen
Now, teams will have fewer players left from 2007-08 because most of those players have moved on to second contracts.

As we all know the Cowboys don’t have a player left from the 2009 draft, but that was a year in which they didn’t have first- or second-round picks. The Giants have five of nine picks left from ’09. The Redskins have one of six picks left from ’09. The Eagles have two of eight picks left from ’09.

In the last three years, which should be the core of a team, the Cowboys have 15 of 21 picks left. The Eagles are the worst with 23 of 33 picks. Washington is the best at 21 of 27 and the Giants have 16 of 22 picks remaining.

So am I contradicting myself from Tuesday’s post? No. The Cowboys had a chance to gain an extra second-round pick in 2011 and keep their own second-rounder last year. Four of the Cowboys’ six first-round picks from 2007-12 remain in Anthony Spencer, Dez Bryant, Smith and Claiborne. Two of their three second-rounders from that span remain in Sean Lee and Bruce Carter.

The three departures are Felix Jones, Mike Jenkins and Martellus Bennett. They weren’t busts, but they weren’t hits either. The best thing you can say is they played out their contracts.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider