America, as a whole, seems to be high on the idea of change. You can't walk five feet in any direction without running into the word. Change will bring happiness and prosperity. Change will drag us out of the putrid muck in which we have been wallowing. Change is good.
Valley Ranch must have missed that memo. In the wake of the embarrassing, Jerry Springer episode of a season that was 2008, the idea of change was an enviable one for any Cowboys fan. No one was quite sure what this change would be, or even where it would come from, but we wanted it nonetheless; we were promised as much by Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips.
Yet, just six weeks after the Cowboys were spanked and run out of town, and playoff contention, by the Eagles, nothing worth writing about has changed at all. Pacman Jones and Brian Stewart are gone, but neither is of any consequence. Jones failed to meet expectations and Wade Phillips' grip on the defense reduces the role of defensive coordinator to little more than a figurehead.
Cowboys’ fans are, and always will be, it seems, at the mercy of Jerry Jones. He will run his team, as he said, "down to the socks and jocks." But even Jones has been uncharacteristically quiet of late. This may be an ugly harbinger.
Perhaps I'm jumping the gun; free agency doesn't start for another two weeks, after all, and the Pro Bowl was less than a week ago. But Jones has said that the Cowboys won't be big players this off-season, and there’s no reason not to believe him.
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And this may be a positive; the Cowboys don't seem wanting of much talent. Dallas has talent in droves. The great weakness of this Cowboys team is in their lack of accountability and, seemingly, leadership.
With Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett safe in their offices at Valley Ranch though, one must wonder where exactly this leadership will come from. Perhaps Ray Lewis, if he is unable to come to terms with the Ravens in the next few weeks, but that is a big 'if' as it stands.
Jerry Jones has never been hesitant in making a change when things go awry, so why the silence now, in the wake of the most shameful, if not the worst season in Dallas Cowboys history? Perhaps he is content with the team as it is; but frightening as it may seem, perhaps Rich Uncle Jerry himself is at a loss, befuddled like a pig in the wilderness by a decade of futility and no more buddies from Fayetteville to hire. (Does anyone have Bobby Petrino's number?)
Ah, but the decision to keep Wade and Garrett was made a long time ago, so no need to kick a dead horse. But, outside of Tony Romo's gushing promises to Babe Laufenberg, there has been little reason for the Cowboys' legions of fans to be anything but skeptical coming into the 2009 season. Unless there is a decided change in culture, born out of something unseen (or maybe a miracle), the only changes will be meaningless shifts in personnel and ultimately of no consequence.
As it stands, the stench of 2008 remains clinging tenaciously to the Cowboys, down to the socks and jocks.
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