NFL: Jerry Jones says standing pat is not an option for Cowboys
By Clarence E. Hill Jr.
INDIANAPOLIS — Sitting on the Dallas Cowboys’ bus outside the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium, owner Jerry Jones was direct and to the point.
Gone were the good feelings and sense of accomplishment he felt in the immediate days following the 2009 season, which featured the team’s first playoff win in 13 years.
Reality has set in about his team, about how far it has come and how far it has to go.
Jones, still smarting from the 34-3 blowout loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC divisional playoffs, said there is no room for complacency and that the Cowboys are not close to being ready to take the next step.
With the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington next season, Jones is ready to do whatever it takes in the NFL Draft and free agency to be the first host franchise to play in the Super Bowl.
He also has a warning for his current Cowboys: Be uncomfortable, nervous and fearful because roster changes are coming. Jones sees possibly 11 meaningful additions, including three or four playing large roles.
“We’re not comfortable, I’m not comfortable,” Jones said. “There is no fear of standing pat here. We’re not caught up in the fact that by some definition we had a good season. One of the things I’m the most sensitive about, even with myself, is to think, well, we’ve got something good going and let’s just ride this thing on into the season. It’s going to be just the opposite.”
Jones answered a number of questions about his mind-set, free agency, the draft and the futures of Roy Williams and Flozell Adams.
What message did you send about continuity and building on last season’s success when you gave coach Wade Phillips a two-year contract extension? I did stress continuity in extending Wade, but that’s about where it stops. Last year, it was not any fun in the off-season. Everybody was pointing fingers. ... I want some of that right now. I want some people nervous. I want our players nervous. I want to have the taste in my mouth that we had when we left Philadelphia the year before.
So when did it sink in for you? Vivid in my mind is the Minnesota game. We weren’t close enough and good enough for anybody to get comfortable about where we are. We’ve got to do something to change that. Somebody says, ’Well, you’ve got to get some home-field games for the playoffs and play some games there in Cowboys Stadium.’ No, we’ve got to get to where, if noise is going to bother us like that, we’ve got to figure out a way to have a team that can play somebody in their noise and win the game.
Do you feel it is tougher to take the next step standing pat? I think it’s dangerous for this team — I think it’s a bad thing for this team — to think that we’re about ready to take that next step. ... I think it’s more than that. We better be ready to take a step. You start the season with that in mind and don’t even think about (how) we just missed last year, we were close last year. This is the real deal with me.
Will the lineup changes come in the draft or free agency? I’m talking about everything. I want to look at everything. We’ve got to get it from within our club. I know we’re going to have some opportunities in this off-season and I’m going to take advantage of it. Make no mistake about it, I expect to see some new faces. If we see a way we can get better at the start of free agency, we are going to try to figure out a way to get better.
Can you envision receiver Roy Williams not being a starter, and what needs to be done to get more out of him? No. No. A big no. I’m optimistic about Roy Williams. He’s certainly got room for improvement. We all know that. But we’ve got to do some things with the way we get him the ball to enhance his game. We’re going to do that.
Considering his age, declining skills and salary, do you have a decision to make about the future of left tackle Flozell Adams? I was very pleased with his season. If we could have a season like that out of him this year it would be great. Certainly, that’s the question mark. That’s when you have a decision to make right there — can you get another year like that out of him?
What positions are you looking at in the draft, and will you trade your first-round pick, 27th overall? There’s not a position we wouldn’t take with that first pick other than quarterback. I don’t want to speculate on (the pick). That has everything to do with how much it costs you. But with these juniors in the draft we are going to have good players there at 27. We are probably less likely to move around.
Is your lack of interest in a quarterback because of Stephen McGee’s potential? No, but it says everything about (backup Jon) Kitna. I love Kitna. Kitna can win games for us. We are really in good shape there. We need to see more of what McGee is. We really haven’t seen that much.