Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones joined the K&C Masterpiece on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM] recently to talk about Tyron Smith’s injury and more. Here are some of the highlights.
On Tyron Smith being done for the year…
Jones: “Let me just say this. Tyron has done any and everything he could possibly do with his condition to play. And as witnessed by the fact he had 88 snaps last week. So, he’s doing everything he can do. The facts are that he’s a 10-year veteran, and this surgery at this time, not after the season, but at this particular time is important for the rest of his career. And that’s paramount to the fact that he’s obviously playing because it’s nerve type sensitivity that is involved here, gets, creates — stinger type, if you remember the term of nerve in your neck and shoulder area and that’s the area we’re talking about. But the bottom line is we all agree that he should have the surgery, which will put him out for the rest of the year. I have said over the last two or three weeks that my biggest concern I have as a position group with all the things that we can critique and look to improve upon with our team, and we certainly have many of them that we can, of all the concerns is the offensive line. It’s always the challenge relative to continuity when you start shuffling it around or losing key players within the offensive line. Position flex, the ability to move a player and have the ability to move around. Some of them like [Zack] Martin or Larry Allen or people like that, they go anywhere you want to put them and do an All-Pro job. But you can’t have all of those. But bottom line is we have a lot of options. We have a lot of guys that are truly going to have to step up. Step up means just what it says. They’re going to have to play above what we expected them to play this year because we thought we were going to have [La’el] Collins, and we thought we were going to have Tyron. And, so, these guys have to step up either sooner or step up better than we had anticipated. We got good coaching. We got the ability — it’s not like this is a surprise. If you remember back in our training camp that we just had a few weeks ago, Collins and Tyron Smith were not active for most of the camp. So, this isn’t something that’s sudden to us, but make mistake about it: we’ll have to adjust, and it will be a major adjustment for us.”
Is everything on the table as far as adjustments, or do you have a more specific contingency plan like Connor Williams going out to tackle?
Jones: “You can say anything is on the table. What has the best combination out there, complement — in an offensive line, players complement each other. There is coordination within the line obviously between players that played beside each other. How you make the calls, how you adjust for efficiencies and inefficiencies. So, it’s a team within a team, and when it’s working, it’s magical. It obviously has — an offensive lineman has to be able to make the block, ‘get man’ we call it. Get man. He has to able to block him or direct him to a degree with the help of another lineman or not. And then obviously there’s the protection aspect of it. Both of those start off looking the same if you’re doing your job as best you can. But then the activity, the things that are required to effectively pass protect as opposed to run-block can sometimes be dramatically different as far as what you’re asking the player to do. That’s what makes them, figuratively speaking, that’s why they get the money they get. It’s a big job.”
Is Connor McGovern ready to play?
Jones: “Yes. Yes, he is.”
Are there any outside options or is everything internal at the moment?
Jones: “We made a nice pickup, I think, for this situation, Greg Senat, who’s out practicing with us right now, was able to come in at advance basis relative to our COVID protocol. And Senat is one, of course — Cameron Erving was the guy that was going to be the backup to either one of those guys — Collins or Tyron Smith. And, so, was unfortunate that after Cameron had his issue there in training camp, which wasn’t structural at all, but still, it was an issue. He didn’t get a lot of that work. And then he stays out there and has that high ankle sprain, but he’s ready to go, and we should have him back. But he was going to be the backup for these guys, and he is from Kansas City originally and he’s played a lot of football and he’ll do a good job for us.”
Did Mike McCarthy warn you that bringing in a new defense might warrant difficult times?
Jones: “Well, you don’t need to be warned. You know that when you have a coaching change and you do change some philosophy. You can change some scheme. You can even change technique, and that all started, each one of those areas, started with the word ‘change.’ Anytime you change and you don’t have repetition to practicing as a team and as an individual, and I emphasize the word ‘repetition,’ and, so, if you’re going to make change, and if you’re going to do it in a climate where the repetition is limited to get ready to play a game, then that’s quite a challenge. It’s not an excuse. That’s a challenge. So, we basically made changes that are for the better. I think we’ll see much better execution of those changes, but we made changes. They present challenges both mental and physical, but make no mistake about it: you don’t play pro football unless you factor in injury. You know you’re going to have them. You don’t know where and what area you’re going to have them in. That’s what makes this such a challenging game. That’s why it’s so great when you win is because you’ve gone through a lot of challenges. If you could simply put that depth chart together and go out and allocate the money for each one of those players and then line them up, and then they play like you expected to some degree performance wise, but more importantly, availability. They were available to you with injury being the chief reason not being available. If you could draw it up like that, then this would be, not a piece of cake, but it sure would be a different game. That’s not our game. Our game is attrition.
“As Barry Switzer used to say, he’s the wagon master. He’s head of the wagon train. He’s talking to those wagons back east. He’s going to California. He said we’re going to burn some of these wagons for firewood. We’ll lose a lot of you here that are listening to me. People will be born on the way. We’ll float the Mississippi River with some of these wagons. I’m going to be there in California. I hope you’re there with me. That’s kind of a team. And we got to get to California.”
In a situation like this, is it a coach’s job to weed out bad players or help guys grow into good players?
Jones: “I think in pro football you’re dealing with the elite football players in this country. When they’ve arrived on a roster in the NFL, you’re dealing with an elite group of players. Those guys can play football relative to the other 75,000. There’s 75,000 players playing in college when everybody’s playing — 75,000. 300 out of that 75,000 will be on an NFL roster the next year. Those are elite players. And, so, what you got to do is maximize their individual talents, and coaching adapts to that. And, so, therein lies you certainly got to put a team together and you got to have a plan, and you got to basically meld those players to the plan. The key thing is the scheme fit the players. That’s the key thing because you have to agree — you do, not have to. You get them in. You get them in for terms. You get them in for years. They’re players that do some things better than other things. You got to put your team together that takes the best of what they’ve got. And then the players, of course, to have gotten to that point have shown the ability to adapt. They’ve shown the ability to do more than one thing a different way. That’s the type of people you’re dealing with. So, ‘weed out’ bothers me a little. Competition, beat out — ‘beat out,’ I like that one better than ‘weed out.’”
What does it mean when Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin question your team’s effort?
Jones: “Well, first of all, I respect where they’re coming from in terms of their ability to evaluate. I would say that they would be the first to know that when you look at a practice or a game, it would help your evaluation and does help your evaluation — this is not to take away from them in any way. But our coach said it being on the sideline and knowing what you’re asking them to do and knowing some of the nuances of that particular play. The guys best suited to evaluate effort are usually the ones right down on the sidelines, the ones that are sitting there aware before the ball is snapped of what the expectations are, and they really can give you the assessment of what the effort probably best, but that’s not to take away from any of our players, certainly Michael’s idea about effort. His world is about passion, which is another way, in my mind, of colorful way of talking about effort. Michael Irvin used to in the middle of two-a-days, the roughest part of all of football, padded two-a-days, you would see where he was between practices and he’d be down with his pads on in the heat of the day out in Austin, Texas, running with his pads on in between practice, between practices. Now, the other thing he’d do is he wouldn’t go to bed much at night either. And that’s a man. So, when he talks about effort, I listen.”
Do you anticipate the NFL needing to expand the schedule? If so, are there contingency plans?
Jones: “We have a lot of flexibility built in. We had the ability to certainly move games around as we’re witnessing. And, so, one of the real asset, one of the real positive of our plan is the ability to move the pieces around, pieces in this case being games and in a competitive way. What I think the best thing to do, to answer your question, this obviously is not your daddy’s football season, or even your last year friend’s football season. This is this year. It’ll have very unique characteristics about it. Football has always been played in the elements when necessary. It’s been played shorthanded relative to talent comparisons. It’s been played having to change your plan, if you will sometimes in the middle of a series. This just adds to what makes this game so great, and that is at the end of the day just getting the win.”
On having Jason Garrett back in town with the Giants…
Jones: “Well, we sure are, and great to have Jason Garrett, good to have him back in town. You know, this is the first year in my time with the Dallas Cowboys that I haven’t written a check to a Garrett, either him, his brother, or his daddy. First year ever in my time with the Cowboys. So, he’s — appreciate everything Jason Garrett brought to the table with the Cowboys and the Garrett family.”
Click here to listen to the full interview.
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