The one constant that we’ve all loved about Jerry Jones through the years is his stubborn, glass half-full optimism. It’s at times encouraging and irrational, but always relentless.
But Thursday I can’t help but think 31 other NFL teams had a giggle at his expense.
In an interview on KRLD-FM, the Cowboys owner said the team would not place injured 2nd-round draft choice Jaylon Smith on season-ending injured reserve just yet. Despite serious doubts from the medical establishment that Smith can play this year – or maybe ever – Jerry’s reasoning was …
“We’ll take a chance he’ll be back for the playoffs.”
I know, we all remember how good this was in 2014. 12-4 with a playoff win and a controversial overturn of a Dez Bryant catch in Green Bay from a berth in the NFC Championship. Tony Romo will be healthy and they’re adding Ezekiel Elliott and … Still, a 4-12 team making roster decisions based on the playoffs seems, well, typical Jerry.
With the 34th overall pick in last week’s draft the Cowboys took a huge risk/reward gamble on Smith.
Once a projected Top 5 pick, he tore up his knee in Notre Dame’s bowl game and some doctors wonder whether the nerves in his leg will ever regenerate enough to allow him to play football.
I don’t blame Jones for hoping. Plus, it’s a tough sell to your fan base to go 4-12 and then draft players who automatically have to sit out a season. Keeping the door cracked for Smith’s return is a carrot of motivation for him as well. Realistically, of course, Smith will red-shirt this season.
The Cowboys will have a decision to make with him when they make their final roster cut to 53. They could place him on the Non-Football Injury list, which would force him to miss at least the first six games. Or they could place him on the Physically Unable to Perform list, upon which he could return later in the season. The league, however, has trashed the rule in which a player could be designated as Injured Reserve-Return.
It’s unlikely the Cowboys would keep Smith on the 53 and just make him inactive every week.
In Jones’ rose-colored world, Smith’s nerves will re-fire and he’ll return to the field for Dallas’ first playoff game. We’ll all be shocked. But that’s why we love Jerry.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.