Troy Aikman Brings The Heat

The Dallas Cowboys laid an egg on Monday Night Football this week against the Tennessee Titans.  There are plenty of statistical measures to justify my saying that they “laid an egg” but the one that jumps out is that the Cowboys’ defense allowed the Titans to convert 11 of 14 third down situations.  And the Cowboys’ defense is the strength of the team…

Dak Prescott was less than impressive throwing a horrid red zone INT and losing a fumble deep in his own territory.  After the game, some of the commentary/analysis focused on the “debate” about Prescott’s performance:

  1. Was this evidence of significant regression from his outstanding rookie campaign 2 seasons ago and a continuation of diminished performance demonstrated last season?  Or …
  2. Was this a result of less effective play by the Cowboys’ OL which has suffered injuries and an attack of Guillain-Barre syndrome on C, Travis Frederick?  Or …
  3. Was this a result of overly conservative and highly predictable play calling by the Cowboys’ offensive coaching staff?

 I certainly think that there is more than a little truth in #2 and #3 above.  I think #1 above is not a cause but is rather a result of #2 and #3; moreover, I think there is another important factor that was not mentioned:

  • Jason Witten was in the announcing booth as the color analyst for that game on MNF instead of lining up at tight end to be an incredibly reliable possession receiver for Dak Prescott.

Then yesterday morning, this saga took a dramatic turn.  Jerry Jones said in a radio interview that he was not going to make a coaching change and that Dak Prescott was a fully capable QB for the Cowboys – – AND – – that “he is going to be extended”.  There were no qualifiers attached to that statement and Prescott’s contract will be over at the end of the 2019 season.  If that were all that happened yesterday, it would still be a big story simply because it involves Jerry Jones and the QB of the Dallas Cowboys.  But Troy Aikman took it all up a notch…

Aikman said to one of the Dallas sports radio programs that the team needs a “complete overhaul” and Aikman did not mean just replacing a few players and a coach here and there.  Here are the important parts of his comments in that radio appearance:

“I’ve heard Jerry say, ‘OK, look, we’re going to do it differently. I’m going to do it differently,’ . . . but it’s the same. Nothing changes, and that to me is the bigger issue beyond, yes, coaching is important, personnel, all those things are important, but how are you going about evaluating how you’re going about running the organization? Whatever that looks like — and everyone has an opinion on what it does look like, but I’m not in the building. I have no idea. I talk to people. I talk to people who have been inside the building and have a pretty good understanding how things are run and in a lot of ways there’s a lot of dysfunction and that has to change if this team is going to be able to compete on a consistent basis like the teams that you look to around the league that seemingly are in the hunt each and every year.”

It is difficult for me to hear or read that statement and come away with any idea other than that Troy Aikman is saying that Jerry Jones and/or his son Steven Jones are integral parts of the “dysfunction” issue there.  Various people in the past have criticized Jerry Jones’ way of running the team; but when Troy Aikman joins the chorus, that would appear to change the volume of the discussion.  That radio station in Dallas did not solicit Aikman’s opinions here because he is a persistent critic of Jones or the Cowboys; that station solicited his opinions because Troy Aikman remains a loud voice within the Cowboys’ community in the Dallas area and around the country.  I think what Troy Aikman did was significant.

When Al Davis lost a bit off his fastball starting around the turn of the century, none of the former Raiders who had maintained stature within “Raider Nation” called Davis on his diminishing decision-making skills.  That team descended into a 15-year trench from 2003 thru 2017 with only 1 winning season.  No one of standing in the Raider’s family ever said publicly that Davis needed to “evaluate how you are going about running the organization.”

I am NOT saying or even hinting that Jerry Jones is losing his fastball.  What I am saying is that Jerry Jones had been given a gift from Troy Aikman that could have been valuable to Al Davis toward the end of his career in Oakland.  It will be interesting to see if Jones can accept that as advice from a longstanding and loyal friend and act on the advice.

While the football pundits were slicing and dicing Dak Prescott’s performance on Monday night, there was another report about a young QB that got little notice.  Johnny Manziel’s season in the CFL is over and it did not do much of anything to make NFL pro personnel evaluators sit up and take notice.  The Montreal Alouettes finished the season with a 5-13 record and Manziel could not establish himself as the #1 QB on a team with that performance.  The CFL is a “passing league” and was one long before the NFL turned itself into a “passing league”.  For his participation in the CFL this year, Manziel threw 5 TDs and 7 INTs.  He appeared in 8 games and completed 64% of his passes averaging 7.8 yards per pass attempt.

Manziel certainly sounded as if he has matured as a person in his media session following the Alouettes final gem of the season saying:

“Football probably got to a point in the past for me where it was about money and I’m comfortable right now. I’m comfortable with a great group of teammates, I’m comfortable in a great city like Montreal. I’m happy being back on the field and I don’t know if that would be the situation in another league. But I’m happy with where I’m at and what’s going on and the opportunity to compete and play ball.”

Manziel signed a 2-year deal to play in the CFL so he has another season to “compete and play ball” before he needs to make his next career decision.

Finally, since I mentioned Montreal regarding the Johnny Manziel item above, here is a comment related to that city from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“The head of Montreal-based Quebecor Inc. blamed the Canadiens’ failure to make the Stanley Cup playoffs for a damaging drop in the communications giant’s second-quarter ad revenues.

“In other words, the bottom line went from Habs into Hab-nots.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………