For Jerry Jones, timing is everything

October, 15, 2008
10/15/08
10:00
AM ET
 
 Gregory Shamus/Getty Images; G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images
 On the day cornerback Adam Jones (right) was suspended, the Dallas Cowboys traded for wide receiver Roy Williams.

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

I'm not sure we can blame Adam "Pacman" Jones for makin' it rain in Dallas on Tuesday, but news of his indefinite suspension by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell didn't do much to brighten the mood of Cowboys fans. After all, owner Jerry Jones had launched a full-scale internal investigation last week into Pacman's bathroom brawl with his team-sponsored bodyguard.

The efficiency of Jones' investigation was enough to make the FBI jealous, and to the surprise of no one, the controversial cornerback was cleared for what was described by the owner as excessive "playfulness" and "jivin'."

In one of the all-time great news conferences at Valley Ranch, we were introduced to Pacman's "significant other, Tish" and informed that a "small umbrella thing" had been damaged in the bathroom of the posh Joule Hotel in downtown Dallas (tours now available).

Earlier in the day, the Cowboys had sacrificed what remained of coach Wade Phillips' dignity by sending him into a news conference without a game plan. In a rare show of emotion, Phillips raised his voice in anger at a reporter. He then announced that Jerry would soon drop by with the "facts."

Goodell's investigation, though time consuming, came to a different conclusion. He disregarded the team's laughable investigation, and suspended Pacman for a minimum of four games.

"It's terribly disappointing to me that we're dealing with this again and that he's reflecting so poorly on all of the players in this league, which they don't deserve."

The commissioner left the door open for reinstatement, but no one in their right mind should trust this guy to behave like an adult. The fact that Jones fired Pac's four-man security detail is a pretty clear signal that he's not counting on the player's return.

This could've been one of the most embarrassing days of Jerry Jones' career, but as we should've predicted, he had an ace in the hole. As the NFL trade deadline approached, he interrupted the Pacman news cycle by trading for Lions wide receiver Roy Williams. It was classic Jones. Sure, He could've waited until the end of the season and landed the Texas native in free agency, but he wanted him now.

He'd been after Williams for the past two seasons, and I'm sure the stunning decline of Terrell Owens over the past three weeks gave him more of a sense of urgency. He says injuries to Tony Romo, Felix Jones, Sam Hurd, Terence Newman, Kyle Kosier, Anthony Spencer, Mat McBriar, Pat Watkins and the other Roy Williams (did I miss anyone?) did not influence his decision. He paid a steep price for Williams, giving up a first-round draft pick, a third and a sixth for the player and the Lions' seventh-round draft pick.

In 2000, Jones gave up two No. 1's for Seahawks receiver Joey Galloway in a desperate attempt to win one last Super Bowl with Troy Aikman. That turned out to be a disastrous trade, but this one has a much better shot of working. At 26, Williams should be entering the prime of his career. His numbers have gone down since making the Pro Bowl in 2006, but that's a result of playing for a terrible team. He should flourish playing with Romo. He's a big, speed receiver who can catch balls in traffic.

Contrary to popular belief, T.O. doesn't do a great job of contesting for balls, and lately, he can barely get off the line of scrimmage. The presence of Williams should open things up for T.O. and Jason Witten. And the good news is that T.O. doesn't have to see defensive stalwarts such as Leon Hall and Rod Hood the rest of the season.

ROY WILLIAMS
Wide Receiver
Dallas Cowboys

2008 Season Stats

RecYdsAvgLngTD
1723213.6251

During his news conference with local reporters Tuesday afternoon, Jones volunteered that T.O. was "elated" about the trade. It was a preemptive comment, because he knows what we're all thinking. If T.O. thought the 19 balls thrown his way weren't enough against Washington three weeks ago, what will he think when Williams has seven or eight catches and he has two? According to Williams, T.O. was the first Cowboys player to call him Tuesday.

At least one Dallas columnist thought Tuesday's trade was a sign that Jerry will do anything to win a Super Bowl. But I'm not quite ready to let the owner whitewash the Pacman fiasco. Jones put himself in position to be embarrassed, and Pacman did the honors. What I can't understand is why Jones was willing to put his neck on the line for a guy who hasn't even played that well.

Pacman was billed as a dangerous punt return man, but we never saw any evidence of that with the Cowboys. And according to people I talked to at Valley Ranch, he blew off coaches' instructions and constantly tried to freelance. The Cowboys would be better off cutting their losses with Pacman -- or they could continue to let Goodell handle their locker room.

On Tuesday, a theory surfaced in Dallas that Romo's injury might have been the best thing that could have happened to this team. The premise is that the adversity will cause players to rally together and challenge themselves to play that much harder. Jones even brought up the 2007 New York Giants as a point of reference.

Now that I've had a little time to consider the theory, it makes even less sense to me. There is nothing good than can come from Brad Johnson replacing Romo unless you're a fan of the check-down pass. The one encouraging sign coming out of Valley Ranch other than Williams' arrival is that players are actually showing a backbone.

This team and its owner have taken on the personality of its head coach -- and that's not necessarily a compliment. When the Cowboys nearly blew a game to the winless Bengals, players thought the subsequent criticism from the media was unwarranted. How dare we question a team that has accomplished so much over the last couple of years? Oh wait...

Defensive end Greg Ellis, one of the most respected voices in the locker room, had finally heard enough Monday. While players around him continued to advocate peace and love, Ellis went fire and brimstone.

"I'm just disappointed in this organization right now," he told local reporters. "Things just aren't going real good. We've got the personnel, we've got the people in place. But right now, I have to say we're not giving ourselves the best chance to do what we need to do on the field to be at our best in those football games."

Ellis called out the owner, the head coach and pretty much everyone else with the club. But to be fair, he has a personal axe to grind with this coaching staff. Early in the season, he has been asked to drop back in coverage quite a bit, which isn't particularly a strength of his.

If you haven't figured it out yet, this team has lost its identity. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, the boy wonder of 2007, can't figure out how to get the ball in the hands of his biggest playmaker. And the Phillips 3-4 has lost its bite.

On Tuesday, Jones licked his wounds by trading for an explosive receiver. Some would call this a misdirection play following Pacman's suspension.

He had better hope it works -- because nothing else has lately.

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