Opinion: Who Killed the Dallas Cowboys?

Jerry Jones has been the owner of the Dallas Cowboys since 1989.

With the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles competing for this year’s Vince Lombardi trophy, Super Bowl LVII will be the 26th NFL championship game in a row to not feature the Dallas Cowboys.

Nicknamed “America’s Team,” the Cowboys’ season ended on Jan. 22 in a divisional-round playoff game against the recently-eliminated San Francisco 49ers. Losing 19–12, Dallas’ final play still leaves the football world confused.

With more than half a field ahead of them, the Cowboys lined up with no offensive lineman. Instead, they brought running back Ezekiel Elliott in to play center and pushed the linemen out to receiver slots.

The play failed almost instantly, only gaining a few yards. Coming from the franchise that practically invented the Hail Mary in the 1970s, this play has been called many things, but brilliant is not one of them.

Dallas has had a few good seasons since their title run in 1996, but never one worthy of earning another title. In fact, they haven’t even sniffed an NFC Championship game slot since Super Bowl XXX, 27 years ago. Iconic franchises have had their hardships since the start of the 21st century, but none quite like the Cowboys.

With a Super Bowl absence that’s lasted over a quarter of a century, it’s time to ask: Who killed the Dallas Cowboys?

To answer, our sports editors Simon Mortensen and Rayshaun Baker-Lynch will debate, with Simon arguing the problem lies with Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones and Rayshaun responding on Feb. 9 saying the problems lie outside the organization.

Jerry Jones killed the Cowboys

It’s hard to believe Jerry Jones played a major role in starting a dynasty. Buying the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, Jones fired Hall of Fame head coach Tom Landry, replacing him with Jimmy Johnson.

Although his tenure started with a 1–15 season, Johnson soon built one of the best teams to ever take a football field, featuring Hall of Famers like quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, wide receiver Michael Irvin and defensive end Charles Haley.

Under Jonnson’s coaching, the Cowboys won two Super Bowls. It was right after winning Super Bowl XXVIII in 1994, however, that Jones and Johnson split. Jones then brought in former University of Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer.

The move to not keep Johnson was controversial and marked a turning point for the franchise. Though Switzer was able to win a Super Bowl during his tenure, it’s impossible to ignore the role Johnson played in building that team

Dallas has never truly recovered from the departure of Johnson, and Jones is to blame for that. In fact, his brash tactics and ego have dug the franchise into an inescapable hole.

Jones is an owner who tries to run the team too often, and his lack of football savvy shows. He constantly tries to find diamonds in the rough to recreate the glory days of the 90s yet fails to recognize what made his programs successful.

Jones has focused solely on finding strong specialty players, which has brought in some phenomenal talents. Wide receivers Dez Bryant, Terrell Owens and CeeDee Lamb have been paired with pro-bowl talent quarterbacks in Tony Romo and Dak Prescott. The team has also had its fair share of good running backs like DeMarco Murray, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Defensively, the Cowboys have had greats since the turn of the century, like safety Roy Williams and linebackers Micah Parsons and Demarcus Ware.

The Cowboys have been given their rebooted versions of the Aikman, Smith and Irvin lineup multiple times but have wasted talent by hiring inept coaches like Wade Phillips, Jason Garrett and Mike McCarthy to develop the team.

Jones never recognized the role Johnson’s coaching and development played in the Cowboys’ success. Instead, he believes that the Cowboys’ next dynasty lies within a team that requires minimal coaching, a task that he has proven to be impossible.

Perhaps this belief is the reason that he kept Garrett for nine years, who only had four seasons with a record over .501 during his tenure. He tried his hand with four different coaches between Switzer and Garrett only to find he didn’t want a brilliant play caller or strategist — he just wanted someone who would agree with him.

Jones has been given the opportunity to take on the brilliant strategist role and has failed. The reason the Dallas Cowboys are dead is because he’s too prideful and powerful to face that reality.