|Jerry Jones: 'You gotta get out of the ditch that we're in at 8-8.' (US Presswire)|
Jerry Jones wasn't kidding when he said earlier this season that he has no plans to relinquish his general managing duties. He also remains adamant that Tony Romo is the Cowboys' quarterback no matter how much some fans and media might disagree.
As the man with final say over personnel (and who now has a decision to make about recently arrested nose tackle Jay Ratliff), Jones is in Mobile, Ala., this week attending Senior Bowl practices and scouting talent. He stopped by the NFL Network set to talk about coach Jason Garrett giving up his offensive coordinator duties and Romo's role in getting the Cowboys back to the playoffs.
Eye on Football's Josh Katzowitz wrote Tuesday that Garrett would no longer call plays. Jones explained the decision as one that benefits everybody on the team, including Garrett.
"When Jason [Garrett] came to the Cowboys, he came as offensive coordinator, then was made the head coach," Jones said. "It was me that said, 'Now as head coach, I want you to call the plays.'
"Joe Gibbs had told me when I was visiting with him about a head coach, 'I think it's great if they can be the coordinator on one side of the ball or the other.' Now, times have changed since that time. [Things] have gotten more complicated. And I've had a lot of people say Jason needs to have the overall picture.
"Having said that," Jones continued, "Jason has never said, 'Boy, that's a prerequisite -- I want to call the plays.' So anything we do here that basically takes that responsibility, moves it away from him … but give it to the overall team is a positive thing. And he is not only for it, he is encouraging it."
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Despite Garrett's 21-19 record in 40 games as the Cowboys' head coach, Jones remains optimistic that he has the right guy.
"The real world is, since Jason has become the head coach, and frankly since his years as offensive coordinator, we really have done some impressive things," Jones said. … "So that what you're seeing right now when we go over here and make these changes [with assistant coaches], don't think we're throwing all the water out. … The problem is a deal called 8-8.
"When you're in a league where the rules say 'We want everybody to be equal' … then you've got to break out somehow. You gotta get out of the ditch that we're in at 8-8. That's promoting some of the changes that we're making to step this thing up, use what we do good … and then be better in other areas."
Invariably, any conversation about the Cowboys' future includes Romo -- and Jones defended his quarterback.
"Well, one of the things we have -- and I'm proud that we do -- is that Jason Garrett has been [Romo's] coach and one of the direct links to what we're doing on the field for six years," Jones began. "I'm glad we're not starting over [at quarterback]. That's a plus. But when we talk about having someone more closely involved with Romo -- a coordinator setting up the game plan and calling the plays on the field -- I wouldn't feel anywhere near as comfortable if someone other than Jason Garrett weren't sitting right there not just overseeing, but directing things.
"Tony is so much on the page with us as we make some of the -- I won't call it a tweak, we're kinda bending some limbs around a little bit -- but the facts are that he's very much on the page. He's naturally a glass-half-full guy. So he's fired up about what we can do.
"And I'll tell you this: I really would hate to be sitting here talking about getting better and starting fresh at quarterback and not having Romo. He's a big part of what we've got to go with.
"He gets criticized," Jones said, "[but] I always say, 'Well, good. Now tell me who you want me to have there at quarterback. Go pick that guy for me next game.'"
We don't often find ourselves agreeing with Jones, but he's right about Romo. Yes, the Cowboys' quarterback has a knack for ill-timed interceptions but he's annually one of the league's most productive passers, according to Football Outsiders' efficiency metric. He ranked sixth among all quarterbacks in 2012, and was fourth in 2011. The NFL is a passing league, a fact that teams without a legit passer know all too well.
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