FRISCO, Texas – Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones isn't ready to discuss Tony Romo's long-term future. He made that perfectly clear at the Senior Bowl last week.
As he awaits word on whether or not he'll be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, however, Jones was more willing to look back on the past – specifically, Romo's 10-year tenure as the Cowboys' starting quarterback.
Speaking in an interview with 104.5 The Zone in Nashville on Tuesday afternoon, Jones spoke about his regrets during his time as the Cowboys' owner. Not surprisingly, those regrets focused on the team's 21-year wait since its last Super Bowl appearance, as well as the inability to boost Romo to the game's biggest stage.
"We have had an occasion, on two different occasions – and really three, counting this year – that we have been right at the door with the right personnel and then didn't get it done," Jones said. "Now, that doesn't count for much, but while I'm disappointed that we haven't won the big games that I wanted, the second thing to me is that I'm disappointed that Tony Romo, during his career, we didn't get him shoved in there and have him competing for a Super Bowl."
None of this qualifies as breaking news. Jones and the Cowboys were served another divisional round heartbreak just three weeks ago, when they fell, 34-31, to Green Bay. It was just the third time and Jones' tenure the team had held the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, and the second time they failed to advance from that position.
[embeddedad0]"I have felt that striving to get that success, or to win more Super Bowls, was overdue," Jones said. "And I'd have never dreamed. I'd have lost a lot of everything betting you that it wouldn't be the years we've had since we've been back to a Super Bowl."
As for Romo – that's no surprise, either. Jones has long expressed his regret that he hasn't been able to get Romo to the game's biggest stage. Given the way this season played out, with Dak Prescott grabbing control of the starting job, that regret is undoubtedly magnified going into 2017.
The quarterback position has been a constant topic of debate since October, when the Cowboys got rolling on what would evolve into an 11-game win streak. Asked about that fact in the interview, Jones joked that there was no way he could have come to a satisfying conclusion.
"If I have that answer, I should be President of the United States," he said. "That's a tough one. But one thing for sure: going into that playoff game, I really thought that we had the best quarterback personnel, even with all the due respect to Rodgers – we had two quarterbacks that were capable, in my mind, of playing at a level that could get us to the Super Bowl."
The bar has been set high, so it's clear Jones will be facing similar scrutiny next season – regardless of what becomes of Romo. To that end, it's clear how anyone could see the 2016 season as both a success and a disappointment
"It's the mixed bag. It's both. We know that we had a season that gave us a lot of hope for the future, with these young players – Dak, Zeke and a lot of the key players for us. It gives us a lot of hope for the future," Jones said.
"On the other hand, only three times since I've owned the Cowboys, in 27 years, have we gotten the homefield bye all the way through. We've lost two of these three times, in the first round, and then went all the way the other time. We really do know how rare it is to get that bye all the way through, and how you need to take advantage of that opportunity."