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Thursday, September 20, 2012
The old 'Who runs the Cowboys?' debate

By Dan Graziano

Jason Garrett
Owner Jerry Jones has, by all appearances, allowed Jason Garrett to run the team the way he wants.
As Todd Archer writes, questions this week about the roster status of running back/kick returner Felix Jones have raised tired old questions about how much power the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys has. Because Jason Garrett said something about looking at alternatives Monday and owner/GM Jerry Jones said Tuesday that Felix Jones wasn't going anywhere, everybody wants to get into this again. Todd, who is around the team all the time and is level-headed, offers a column-length sigh:
When Garrett took over as coach on a full-time basis, the owner said there would not be a player on the roster who Garrett did not want. If you look at the additions and subtractions that have been made the last two seasons, do you see somebody Garrett doesn't still want around?

If there's something to quibble with Garrett, it's how he has dealt with the Felix Jones situation. On the one hand, he talks about how important it is for the team to "be in the now" and move on from the good or the bad. But his public affection for Felix Jones is only about what the running back has done in the past.

"Felix's body of work has been pretty darn good," Garrett said.

I'm with Todd. I think Jerry Jones wants Garrett to be a great and successful NFL head coach, and that he's allowing him a great deal of say in personnel matters because he thinks that's what he needs in order to become that. I don't think there's any current evidence on the roster or the coaching staff to suggest that the old Jerry Jones ways are winning out over what Garrett wants. And it's entirely possible that Felix Jones is a Garrett blind spot, and that that's why he's still on the team and still returning kicks. All Garrett said was that they'd consider alternatives at kick returner. It's entirely possible they don't have any. It's also possible they don't want to give up on a 25-year-old running back who as recently as one year ago was their starter.

I think there's a pretty large cult of Cowboys analysis that desperately wants to believe it's always right about Jerry Jones, and I think those who inhabit that cult like to pick apart any little development they can find and bend it to prove their point. I don't think anyone who's spent time around the Cowboys recently can deny that, within the building, there's been a relaxation of the culture, an increase in positivity and a sense of working together to build something for the future. I don't think anyone who's been around the team could have failed to notice Garrett's influence in that.

Jerry Jones still likes to be out front, and doesn't like to turn down interview opportunities, and he sure has had a lot to say since training camp opened. But I think we're past the time when we have to assume everything that comes out of his mouth fits into some old stereotype about him and how he runs his team. Things do change, you know.