Mac Engel

Like it or not, Jerry Jones has Cowboys on the right path

This hurts to write, and no self-respecting fan of the Dallas Cowboys is going to like this, but the way this thing is set up, the following is true: Jerry Jones deserves some credit. Quite a bit of it.

This week, Round 94 of Jerry vs. Jimmy was played with the 25th anniversary of the Herschel Walker trade making the national rounds. Jimmy said the whole thing was his idea, and that Jerry wanted none of it. Jerry said some of it was his idea.

“There is still an ‘I’ in that alphabet isn’t it?” Jerry asked with a laugh after the Cowboys’ 30-23 win in Seattle on Sunday.

There is a good chance one of these men is mis-remembering that Walker deal, or flat-out lying.

With Jimmy long gone and Bill Parcells enjoying his 10th retirement, the way these Cowboys are set up, there is no debate: Jerry gets credit this time.

As much as you personally may dislike Jerry for what you think he has done to your team, if it is to ever win, he deserves a good chunk of praise.

He either approved, or insisted on, many of the moves that have the Cowboys at 5-1. This does not mean this record is an indication of any success in January, but when the Cowboys stink, we all throw him in the DFW Tiger Pit. When the Cowboys win, he has to be allowed in the DFW Bounce House.

Most recently, this begins with his decision to yield to “the room” on draft day when the team passed on Jerry’s gut instinct to go for it by selecting Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. The Cowboys “laid up” and settled for the boring pick of Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin.

“I don’t know how that’s relevant,” Jerry said when I asked him the loaded question of whether he had any regrets on that decision now.

It is relevant because if the Cowboys had Jerry pull another “clear the room” moment like he had to pick Quincy Carter, the Cowboys would be stuck with Manziel on the sideline, creating a shadow over the current quarterback.

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And an offensive line that is the best in the NFL would not have one of the reasons it is playing so well.

“I’m not so sure I am ready to admit a mis-thought” Jerry said. “No, it’s not relevant. I’ve had some very stern, succinct instructions not to mention Johnny anymore.”

When a team is 5-1, that means the play-calling is brilliant. The game plans are revolutionary. The coordinators are incredible. The head coach had his “team prepared.” The general manager has made some outstanding decisions.

We all know much of the praise is hyperbolic junk reliant on a few lucky breaks, but that’s how it goes.

This start has to provide some measure of vindication for Jerry, at least for now.

“I understand where the criticism is coming from,” he said. “The way you handle criticism is to show ’em. Show ’em. So when you get things that happen it is a feel-good. There is not a living, breathing soul that doesn’t smart a little bit [when you get criticized].”

Jerry was the man who went out to hire Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator in 2007 and has been committed to seeing this through to a successful run, or a potentially bitter conclusion.

Jerry’s decision not to fire Coach Process, to concede to bringing Scott Linehan in as the play-caller, to promoting Rod Marinelli as the defensive coordinator and demoting Monte Kiffin, to approve the long-term plans of drafting and building a dominant offensive line have yielded the results you all want. The team is a winner.

This is not the first time in this century the Jerry-led Cowboys have had a nice start.

No — the Bill Parcells Era doesn’t count. Jerry should get credit for being able to persuade Bill to come out of retirement to coach the team, but he had to step out of the way in order for that relationship to work.

In 2007 and in 2009, the Cowboys under Wade Phillips had good teams and good seasons. They didn’t do much in the playoffs either year, but they were good regular seasons.

This team feels different.

This team has an edge and plays differently than Uncle Wade’s best teams, which always felt like they could pull out a loss or play-dead performance at any moment.

The Cowboys under Garrett have never really quit, even if sometimes the results suggest otherwise.

These Cowboys are 5-1, have defeated two of the better teams in the NFC — the Saints and the Seahawks — are undefeated on the road and have the look of a legit team.

“They are serious contenders. They go into Seattle — which no one ever does — they win, they run the ball, and they completely dominate the line of scrimmage,” NBC analyst Rodney Harrison said during the Sunday night football telecast. “This is a serious team.”

Before the season began, we were all sure they were going to be failures, and the man most responsible is the idiot GM.

The Cowboys are 5-1, so it’s only fair that the idiot GM gets some of the credit — and be allowed to party in the bounce house.

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