Things tend to get lost in translation when Jerry Jones goes off on a tangent.
So it’s no surprise that much of the initial reaction to Jerry’s post-draft declaration that Tony Romo would spend “Peyton Manning-type time” at Valley Ranch was off base. By no means did Jerry mean to call into question the prior work ethic of a man to whom he had just made a $55 million guaranteed commitment.
You want a grassy knoll here? This continues the offseason trend of reducing the authority of a head coach who will enter the season on the hot seat.
As Ed Werder mentioned on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s Fitzsimmons and Durrett last week, this wasn’t a case of the owner pushing the franchise quarterback to spend more time in the film room. This was Romo requesting increased responsibility in the weekly process of creating game plans.
The company line is that it was a mutual decision between the owner, quarterback and head coach, but it’s not exactly an encouraging sign for Jason Garrett that this issue came up during Romo’s contract negotiations, when the quarterback had all the leverage.
“I want to use everything that he’s got in his computer,” Jerry told reporters during rookie minicamp, referring to Romo. “The way to do that is have him involved in a lot of the design and the preparation as we not only prepare the team in general, but as we prepare for the opponents. He’s qualified to do that.”
That’s fine and dandy, but this comes on the heels of Jerry essentially questioning whether Garrett is qualified to continue serving as the head coach and running the offense.
The solution to fixing the Cowboys’ problematic yards-to-points ratio seems to be lightening Garrett’s role in the equation. The Cowboys continue to be tight-lipped about the playcaller, but all indications are that Garrett will hand those duties off to Bill Callahan, perhaps reluctantly. And it appears that the loudest voice in the meeting room on Monday and Tuesday will belong to Romo, not Garrett.
The spin is that allowing Garrett to serve as a “walk-around” head coach, to use the phrase coined by Jerry, will give him more room to make his presence felt throughout the entire team. But it’s not as if Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli – two defensive minds who would have been hired with or without Garrett’s approval – will need much input from a man they first met when he was Tampa Bay’s fourth-string quarterback.
Maybe Romo’s increased game-planning responsibilities are a non-issue. Or perhaps it’ll provide the spark the Cowboys’ offense needs after being mediocre in the only category that really matters (scoring) for the last five years.
Two things are clear: Jerry never meant to question the work ethic of a quarterback that he’s gone to great lengths to please; and if this doesn’t work, Romo and Garrett won’t be sharing a meeting room for much longer.