Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is one of the most optimistic men in professional sports. When most of us see a glass half empty, he sees it about to overflow. Perhaps it's the old oil wildcatter in him that causes him to think this organization is about to hit a playoff gusher at any moment. But with the Cowboys' late-season success, Jones has a legitimate reason to hope for the best.
On Tuesday at Valley Ranch, Jones sat down with reporters and talked about the pain he felt following last season's 44-6 loss to the Eagles and how it led to sweeping changes within his organization. Here's the most interesting portion of Philadelphia Inquirer writer Ashley Fox's story:
"My confidence was shaken," Jones said. He paused, stammered a bit, cleared his throat, apologized for doing so, then rambled on about being routinely criticized for not having a layer of management between himself and the head coach, but saying that's the best way to do business in the National Football League.
"Because of that kind of self-designed structure that we have here, and hearing it for 20 years, then it was pounding in my head pretty good when we left Philadelphia."
It's rare to hear a man capable of building a $1.1 billion monument to his own legacy express any level of doubt. But I think he was truly hurt after watching his players go belly-up in the season finale against a hated rival. As Fox points out, Jones responded by sacking Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson. He retained Wade Phillips, not based on anything Phillips had done as head coach. He kept him because he still felt like Phillips was one of the best defensive coordinators in the league -- and that's why he gave him the additional title.
The Cowboys also fired special teams coach Bruce Read and hired Joe DeCamillis, which turned out to be one of the most underrated moves of the offseason. The fiery DeCamillis was exactly what this coaching staff needed. Phillips is more of the nurturing type and DeCamillis became his hammer. It's not something you'll see many folks writing about this week, but it's definitely something that has inspired this team.
"When you don't have success or you have really tangible setbacks, then it will shake you," said Jones. "It's completely the way I've lived my life and professionally. It invites big bumps and bruises. ... Since I'm past this past weekend, I'm worried about the bruise or the bump coming."
And make no mistake, a loss to the Eagles on Saturday night could sting just as much as the one at the end of last season. I think the Cowboys have already shown that they can handle adversity this season. Tony Romo has exorcised his late-season demons and is playing as well as any quarterback in the league. And two consecutive shutout wins shows you that Phillips is doing a superb job.
But will this season still be viewed as a failure if the Cowboys lose Saturday night at home? Absolutely.
Any thoughts from you guys?
Update: Here's another good take on Jones from ESPNDallas.com's own Calvin Watkins.