Jerry Jones takes winning personally
Cowboys owner feels pressure to win now, says it's time to get down to business
IRVING, Texas -- The man who bought the Dallas Cowboys years ago is getting on in age.
He still looks cool in his leather jacket and cowboy boots. He walks with a powerful strut and has the energy of a teenager. He remains sharp and commands the room when he enters.
Jerry Jones is still a big deal.
So when Jones talks about a sense of urgency for his franchise, it's not so much about putting pressure on coach Jason Garrett or quarterback Tony Romo to produce, it's more about his personal drive.
"I don't have time to have a bad time," Jones, 69, said Wednesday during the Cowboys' organized team activities. "It ain't on my schedule."
The Cowboys have had five coaches since their last Super Bowl win in 1995. Jones' teams have produced just one playoff victory since then.
From 1989 to 2000, the Cowboys won three Super Bowls and reached the postseason eight times.
But we have seen bad times around Valley Ranch recently: a locker room rift with Terrell Owens, bad drafts (remember Dwayne Goodrich?), bad trades (see Roy Williams and Joey Galloway) and the search for a starting quarterback that saw the likes of Chad Hutchinson, Quincy Carter and Drew Bledsoe pass through Dallas.
The Cowboys have failed to reach the playoffs the last two seasons, and Jones is doing everything in his power to reverse that trend.
Everything around Valley Ranch these days is about putting another trophy in the front lobby.
Stephen Jones, Jerry's son and the No. 2 man in the franchise, takes on more day-to-day responsibilities by the minute. The Jones family challenges the scouting department to find the right players in the draft and free agency.
"I sensed urgency from the minute I got here," defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "That's why I wanted to come here to Dallas. I was fortunate enough to be hired here, but I also chose Dallas. I chose to win, and that's what the goal is. And if we execute the way we're capable of, that's what's going to happen. That's what we need to do, and that's what we're focused on now."
The Cowboys won back-to-back championships under Jimmy Johnson in the '90s and another title with his players under Barry Switzer.
If you dig deeper, it might be that Jerry Jones is trying to win a title his way, without Johnson's shadow looming over him.
"To me, we're lined up with the [right] personnel," Jones said. "When I look down the road, it's as good as we're going to see it. So we need to get it."
This offseason, Jones spent $50.1 million on Brandon Carr in free agency to upgrade the cornerback position. He spent $30 million more on two interior offensive linemen, Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau. Jones made a trade to move up in the draft to select cornerback Morris Claiborne at No. 6 overall. Two longtime staples at Valley Ranch, line coach Hudson Houck and secondary coach Dave Campo, weren't offered new contacts.
Jones recently talked about a sense of urgency around Valley Ranch. He discussed how it's time to move forward toward a championship and get Dallas' police department ready for a downtown parade.
Jones also said his window for winning a title is closing. He saw a close friend, Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, pass away last year without getting another crown.
Jones had his own health scare a few years ago, and while it was non-life threatening, it was the first time reporters wrote about the owner's physical condition.
As you get older, you begin to think about what you've accomplish in your life. How will you be remembered?
Jones has done much in the NFL and in other businesses. His legacy is secure.
Romo, meanwhile, doesn't think the window is closing. And that's fine. He's in his 30s. Jones is almost 70.
Jones hasn't said that he thinks he's going to leave us or anything. He just realizes -- like most of us -- that the time is now to get a title. He's watched the division rival New York Giants win two Super Bowl titles while he's gone through three head coaches in that span.
"I think there is an urgency," Jones said. "It's my perspective. I'm the one that decides where the windows are, so with that in mind, I'm saying that we need to get out here and get down to business and get in some playoffs and get knocking on the door."