Two results always make Philadelphia football fans ecstatic – Eagles’ success and Dallas Cowboys’ failure.
So, as the Super Bowl champions kick up training camp in the era of good feelings, it’s nice to know things are as dysfunctional as ever in Dallas.
Last week brought a triple dose of drama to Big D; much of it initiated by clownish owner Jerry Jones and his son, VP Stephen Jones. It supports the theme that Dallas is replacing Washington as the division’s most fractured franchise.
The biggest splash was made by ex-Cowboy wide receiver Dez Bryant, who chafed at Stephen Jones saying on the radio that Dak Prescott’s regression last season stemmed from Bryant’s constant carping in the young quarterback’s ear.
Bryant launched a Trumpian Twitter rant. He called Jerry Jones “clueless,” termed coach Jason Garrett’s play-calling “predictable garbage,” and accused ex-teammates Travis Frederick and Sean Lee (whom he called “Snake”) of conspiring to get him cut.
You can dismiss this as the ravings of a receiver scorned, and there’s merit to that. But there’s also a nugget of truth, at least in Dez’s ravaging of the play calling. The offense was bland last year, and Prescott backslid under offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and Garrett, whose biggest contribution often appears to be clapping his hands like a seal.
In addition to that, there’s a theory among NFL insiders smarter than I that former quarterback Tony Romo’s ability to read the field (as shown by his TV work last season) covered for the insipid game plans. Obviously, Prescott, in his second season, did not have the experience to overcome his coaches.
Even as the Bryant theater played out, Jerry Jones battled him for headlines. Jerry publicly undercut a league national anthem policy he actually voted for two months earlier by decreeing every player must “put a toe on the line” during the “Star Spangled Banner.” Stephen Jones took it further, saying no players could stay in the locker room during the anthem “if they want to be a Dallas Cowboy,” and implying all who did would be cut.
Regardless of where you stand on the anthem controversy (and I respect the passion on both sides), it’s hard to justify the Jones boys violating an NFL gag order and going rogue with their own policy while other owners and the union quietly try to work a compromise.
It also put Cowboys players in a no-win position when asked if they back their owner or their union.
“He’s the boss,” 2017 first-round pick Taco Charlton said of Jerry. “That’s above my pay grade.”
Charlton, like every Cowboy questioned on the issue, said he would stand for the anthem. Meanwhile, Eagles safety and NFL Players Coalition leader Malcolm Jenkins called Jerry Jones “a bully,” adding, “Lucky for me, I don’t play for the Cowboys.”
Finally, news broke far from Dallas that bodes ominously for America’s former team. Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley signed a four-year, $60 million deal, with $45 million guaranteed. The contract sets a new benchmark for elite running backs like Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, and Ezekiel Elliott.
Gurley is one season ahead of Elliott, which means Dallas could start working to re-do Elliott’s deal in the next year, or just try to hold him to his rookie contract – which never goes well. And with Prescott and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence also eager for long-term money, the Cowboys have tough decisions on the horizon.
Sure, that’s down the road. But there’s a great chance for discord, and as an Eagles fan, I look forward to it.