IRVING, Texas – It seems that Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones has heard the criticism of his handling of the backup quarterback position, and he agrees.
As the Cowboys prepare to play their eighth game this season without Tony Romo in the lineup, Jones graded himself on how he prepared for that possibility – and it wasn't overly flattering.
"I think that we have made a D – if you want to give it that, make it an F – relative to how we have approached the situation if Romo should get hurt," Jones said Tuesday morning.
In his weekly interview with 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas, Jones detailed the thought process behind the decision to work with Brandon Weeden as the Cowboys' No. 2 quarterbacks these last two seasons. Weeden was the No. 22 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, and Jones said there was confidence the Cowboys could use him for depth while also developing his talent for the future.
It doesn't need to be re-stated, but Weeden came up short in his opportunity as the starter – posting an 0-3 record overall and an abysmal afternoon in his final appearance against New England.
"That's who we wanted as our backup quarterback, so we could be doing two things – building for the future as well as back up Tony Romo. That didn't work out for us," Jones said.
With Romo done for the season with a broken clavicle, Jones is faced with no shortage of questions about his quarterback position – several of which he answered Tuesday. Having failed at addressing the position in free agency, Jones was asked if the Cowboys need to invest a first-round draft pick to secure the future of the quarterback spot.
"Well, I don't know about first round, necessarily – at all," he said. "But again, I go back to Weeden. Weeden was an opportunity to develop the future. Again, he hadn't played much football and he had some age on him because he played baseball – but still it was an opportunity for us to develop for the future. It did not work. There's your first-round pick. Half of the first-round picks that are made don't work."
Jones returned to that line of thinking several times, noting his famous flirtation with drafting Johnny Manziel No. 16 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Cowboys eventually opted to draft guard Zack Martin, who went on to become an All-Pro as a rookie, while Manziel has struggled during two seasons with the Browns.
That seemed to play toward Jones' point, though. Jones acknowledged that he had been a "vote of one" to select Manziel 16th overall. But even had the Cowboys invested heavily with a first-round pick at quarterback, it would be no guarantee to work in their favor.
"Those are the circumstances that come up when you're thinking for the future. I was, at that particular time, debating the value of him for the future – as well as debating a backup," Jones said. "Now, what happens is about half of those guys you can get in that spot, if you're fortunate enough to have one drop to you – about half of those guys don't work out for whatever the reason."
Even if the Cowboys don't spend a first-round draft pick on a quarterback, there will be several other routes they can take this offseason. Current starter Matt Cassel will be a free agent when the season ends, in addition to other free agent possibilities.
On top of that, the Cowboys currently hold five picks in the 2016 NFL Draft, and they are in line to gain several compensatory picks. There's no shortage of options ahead of them when the offseason begins.
"We will be, as we move forward, continuing to try and get a situation where, if Romo should get hurt, then we've got a guy who can step in and carry us for some games hopefully – that's your backup description – or at the same time be developing for the future. That's what we're looking for," Jones said.