NFL

Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys Have the Same Old Problem They’ve Always Had

The Dallas Cowboys are having one of the most disappointing NFL seasons in years — maybe even in franchise history. Dak Prescott’s injury remains the most symbolic moment, but several other things have gone wrong, too. In fact, fans would be hard-pressed to name one thing that’s gone right for the team this season. Former Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware recently chimed in with his thoughts on the current state of the franchise.

In particular, the future Hall of Famer highlighted an ongoing problem with the Cowboys’ mentality. Let’s recap Ware’s impressive NFL career and then delve into his thoughts on the Cowboys and who deserves the lion’s share of the blame.

DeMarcus Ware’s NFL career

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The Cowboys selected the 6-foot-4 Ware with the 11th pick of the 2005 NFL Draft. The choice surprised many analysts, who had predicted Ware going in the second round. Yet Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was particularly bullish on Ware’s potential, and insisted on using the team’s first round pick to snag him. Though Jones has had plenty of whiffs in the draft, this one ended up panning out.

In nine seasons as a linebacker for the Cowboys, Ware earned seven Pro Bowl appearances and four First-Team All-Pro selections. He led the league in sacks in both 2008 and 2010 and ultimately earned a spot on the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. Ware spent the last three years of his career with the Denver Broncos, helping them secure a win in Super Bowl 50 and earning his final two Pro Bowl selections.

Over the course of his 12 seasons in the NFL, Ware racked up 138.5 sacks, per Pro-football-reference.com. That total puts him at ninth place in the list of all-time sacks leaders. His 117 sacks for the Cowboys remains a franchise record. Ware also finished his career with 657 combined tackles, 505 of which were solo tackles, and 171 of which were tackles for loss.  

Ware’s theory about the Cowboys’ problems

Ware recently opened up about the Cowboys’ ongoing struggles, in an appearance on the Jim Rome Show. According to Cowboys Wire, he opened with a bold statement that seemed to implicate new coach Mike McCarthy as the source of the Cowboys disappointing season:

“I go back to during the offseason, you know when new coaches come in they usually establish some type of mantra, some type of character of the team, and I don’t see a lot of that this season.”

That isn’t the first time that Ware has leveled criticism at Dallas’ coach. He also isolated poor coaching as a problem back in October, during an appearance on Colin Cowherd’s The Herd. Yet this time around, Ware seemed to suggest that an equally big part of the problem was the Cowboy’s poor mentality in general.

Is Jerry Jones the ultimate culprit?

Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton of the Dallas Cowboys is tackled by the Eagles’ Brandon Graham | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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Ware made some valid points about the Cowboys’ lack of mental toughness. Every year, the team comes in with more than enough talent to put up a strong postseason fight — only to end up underperforming. Simply put, nobody on the Dallas franchise seems to have the necessary desire to win.

McCarthy certainly deserves some of the blame for that shortcoming this season. Yet, with the problem stretching back many years, Jerry Jones seems like the more likely culprit. For one thing, Jones no longer seems capable of inspiring his teams to play their hardest. Ware pointed out that Jones used to make regular appearances in the locker room to stoke his players’ passion for competition.

That no longer seems to be the case. To make matters worse, Jones’ stubborn insistence on continuing to play GM is only hurting the team. While some of Jones’ personnel hunches have proved right in the past — drafting Ware is a great example — his decision-making in recent years has become increasingly bad.