With a trip to New York and the Super Bowl coming up, maybe Jerry Jones was preoccupied last week, and suddenly his iron grip on Valley Ranch slipped a tad.
For 30 rich football guys, meaning those without a horse in the final race Sunday , the Super Bowl itinerary is important stuff. With his club out of the running, an NFL owner has to still play the big-time game, particularly in the case of Jerry, whose team hasn’t played in the big-time game for two decades.
Is my hotel suite at least 5,000 square feet? Are the Manhattan limos lined up and on 24-hour call? I know I’ll get some TV time, so pack the pancake makeup, and don’t forget my socks and jocks.
Whatever the reason, strange stuff happened in Irving this week. Jason Garrett apparently kicked down Jerry’s office door and then started making coaching-staff hires and changes on his own.
Egypt is more stable than Valley Ranch, but this kind of local rebellion caught us all by surprise.
Stephen Jones, No. 1 son and forever the pooper scooper who walks behind Jerry in an attempt to clean up dad’s ongoing mess, attempted to tell us that Garrett had been granted full latitude after the season to make staff changes.
This makes no sense, because such latitude would make too much sense, and making too much sense is never the Cowboy way.
Plus, Norv Turner would be the new offensive coordinator at Valley Ranch if Garrett had originally had his way.
But, yes, Red J made a “my hire” in naming veteran coach Scott Linehan as offensive play-caller. Bill Callahan was demoted, despite retaining his title as offensive coordinator/offensive line coach.
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But the removal of Callahan from play-calling clearly is a win for Garrett, who never wanted Callahan calling plays in the first place.
On the defensive side, old-timer Monte Kiffin becomes the assistant head coach, and his old-timer pal, Rod Marinelli, takes over for Kiffin as defensive coordinator. That’s a Garrett move also.
This time a year ago Jason was being stripped of his coaching manhood. Jerry used the Von Erich iron claw in dictating staff hires and changes to his head coach.
Now there’s a one-eighty at play. Garrett has regained some muscle, and since he’s lame-ducking his way through this off-season, only a long-standing friendship could have lured Linehan here. This guy has solid credentials as an offensive play-caller.
The knockers will point out that Linehan has a tendency to use the pass more than the run, and the Cowboys need more balance, but if I had been the play-caller in Detroit (as Linehan was the last three seasons) and I saw Calvin Johnson lined up as my receiver, well …
Now that the latest in an ongoing circus of coaching-staff moves has been finalized for 2014 (under Garrett, it will be three defensive coordinators in three years and three offensive play-callers in three years), I come to you today a bit amused/confused.
Why does Jerry hate Norv Turner?
Actually, I called Norv the other day and asked him that question, not expecting, of course, a straight answer.
On cue, Norv laughed, and then hung up.
But three times since 2007, and twice in the last two years, Jones has had the opportunity to bring Turner back to Valley Ranch in vital roles. All three times, Jerry went thumbs-down.
Norv, who was old friend Mike Zimmer’s recent choice as offensive coordinator for the Vikings after Zim landed that head-coaching job, was once a vital link to the only football credibility Mr. Jones has had or will ever have.
In the Cowboys’ football dynasty of the early ’90s, Norv’s work as offensive coordinator greatly helped the process happen. To this day, Troy, Michael, Emmitt, Moose, not to mention Jimmy Johnson, still swear by Turner.
Norv was available in 2007 when Jerry needed a new head coach. In fact, most of Turner’s friends from his Cowboys days thought he had the job until Jerry surprisingly announced he had hired Wade Phillips.
Then after the 2012 season, Jerry wanted a new play-caller, with Garrett becoming the “walk-around” head coach. Jason didn’t agree with the change, but with Norv having been fired as San Diego’s head coach, Garrett’s choice was Norv to work with Tony Romo.
Jerry would not allow it. A month ago, Turner was freed up again after a season in Cleveland as offensive coordinator. It was a perfect fit for Garrett, but again, no Turner was allowed.
Asking around, there are two theories that tie into Jerry not wanting Turner back at Valley Ranch.
One, Norv knows Jerry too well, and would not hesitate to tell Jerry he was full of it. Jerry allows disagreement with his opinions, but not blunt disagreement. Jones knows Norv would be blunt with him.
Two, Jerry remains the lone high-profile link to the Dynasty Days, and if Norv returned, and success for the Cowboys actually happened, Turner would be showered with credit. With Jerry, that would not be acceptable. Continual failure is more acceptable to Jerry.
Mr. Jones is one strange cat.
Sunday in New York, he once again will be only a spectator at the Super Bowl. And last week, even his normally docile head coach got the best of Jerry.