- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's the offseason, so we've decided to open the mailbag and see what the people have to say.
Q: So how come Jerry Jones won't trade Tony Romo for some high draft picks or better yet a quarterback? junior805, Santa Maria, Calif.
A: It doesn't make sense to trade Tony Romo. He's still the best option the team has at quarterback and while yes, I see an influx of rookie quarterbacks come into the league that produce big numbers, the Cowboys have bigger issues. Offensive line and defensive line, running back and tight end are bigger holes to fill than quarterback. I'm not against drafting one, just not in the first round. Remember Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick were not first-round picks and you see the success each had in 2012. In a weak quarterback class, the Cowboys are better suited to find one in the later rounds instead of forcing it in the first.
Q:Calvin, I'm all for Jerry Jones making changes to this team as the owner of the Cowboys. My question is with the defense (Monte Kiffin) moving to a 4-3, and the offense moving from a timing-based offense to the West Coast (Bill Callahan), with all this movement happening, do you feel Jerry is trying to force these transformations down the Cowboys fans' throats, just to prove a point that he will do anything to make sure that Romo has a legacy of success as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys? Instead of allowing the franchise to rebuild for the long term? What happens, if all these moves backfire on Jerry (I hope I didn't jinx the franchise). Will he be force to start over? Robert, Denver
A: Jerry Jones said he's not making these changes for the sake of change. I believe him. However, the way he's going about things is leading to confusion. He won't admit he's moving Jason Garrett out of the playcalling business and giving it to Bill Callahan. Just say it and end all the drama. I do like the move with a 4-3 under Monte Kiffin, the father of the Tampa 2 defense. If these moves don't work, Jones will have no choice but to start over with the coaching staff. No choice at all. He already has a good young group of players in Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and DeMarco Murray to work with. It's up to this coaching staff to make this work.
Q: Mr. Watkins, I am a Cowboys fan and try to read everything I can about the team, but I have never read an article that breaks down the management chain of the Cowboys. Meaning who chooses personnel at the draft and who approves that choice? What is the avenue a player takes to get to talk to Jerry about problems? This interests me coming from a military background and we call this a chain of command. All fans blame Jerry for the Cowboys' spiral downward and if we knew this it can help giving us insight. Gabriel, Tucson, Ariz.
A: Gabriel, the chain of command is pretty simple. Jerry Jones makes the final decisions when it comes to personnel moves. He does, however, take input from his head coach, son and vice president in charge of personnel Stephen Jones, and the scouts. Jones doesn't make a decision without their input. He's not running around saying it's my way or the highway. As an example, former coach Wade Phillips wanted Anthony Spencer to be the first-round pick and Jones did it. Jason Garrett and former offensive line coach Hudson Houck told Jones the best lineman in the draft that particular year was Tyron Smith and Jones drafted him. Even before this, former coach Bill Parcells was worried the team wouldn't have a chance to draft Marcus Spears, but Jones and his son convinced Parcells he would get not only Spears, but also DeMarcus Ware as a first-round draft pick as well. Jones listens to his personnel people, probably more than you think. When it comes to players getting into trouble, Jones has an excellent player development program in place. Players with problems in any area can go to that department and discuss their issues with no retribution from the team. The conversations are also held in confidence. If it's serious enough, Jones will talk with a player -- in some cases every week, like he did with Dez Bryant two years ago.
Q: What is the reason why Jerry Jones does not bring in the best and the brightest personnel and talent evaluators out there and build a team through the draft instead of consistently overpaying for free agents and giving bad contracts to average players? Also, I do not think Monte Kiffin is a good hire for defensive coordinator. I would have preferred Ray Horton. What is your opinion? David Iacovella, Farmington, Conn.
A: I think you're trying to say Jones should hire a general manager. Well that's not going to happen. Jones, as I've said earlier, listens to his personnel people. If you want to question them, then that's a fair question. Of late, I've had no problems with the Cowboys' personnel people given the recent success of some drafts, especially in the early rounds. Kiffin was hired because the Cowboys want to employ the 4-3 defense and who better to run that scheme, or the Tampa 2 version of it, than Kiffin. He's the Godfather of it and his experience gives coach Jason Garrett confidence that he doesn't have to worry about the defense like he did under previous coordinator Rob Ryan. Ray Horton would have been a good hire. The Cowboys tried to hire him as a secondary coach a few years ago when he was in Pittsburgh, but the franchise felt Kiffin was a better fit.
Q: At your next (news) conference with Jason Garrett, could you ask him why he seems reluctant to call more screen plays, quick slants and three-step passes (West Coast) especially since his offensive line can't protect Tony Romo long enough to keep trying those deep passes? I think that's a flaw in his play calling. Where's the Bunch WR sets? Mike Koch, Detroit
A: At one point during the season, I thought the Cowboys didn't attempt enough deep passes in 2012. I was wrong. The Cowboys finished tied for ninth in the NFL with 55 pass attempts of 20 or more yards and tied for second in the league with 14 touchdown passes of 20 or more yards. Green Bay led the league with 16. In terms of screen passes, Tony Romo attempted 25 throws for 132 yards and one touchdown. Matt Ryan of Atlanta led the league with six touchdown passes off screens. The Cowboys made throws on slant routes all the time to Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, though I don't have the overall numbers here, but Romo's objective is to get rid of the ball quickly. He told me he wants to get rid of it in less than 2.5 seconds regardless of the protection.