INDIANAPOLIS - His annual state of the union discussion has never been in such a luxurious setting.
Jerry Jones always talks to the local media at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, and often holds court on the Cowboys bus. But this was the first such media session on the brand-new coach, which has been parked outside Lucas Oil Stadium or one of the prominent downtown hotels for the last few days.
But after a quick tour of the bus and showing off some of its fancy tricks, Jones got down to business and discussed a wide range of topics that spanned nearly two hours.
Here are some of the highlights:
- In terms of play-calling, Jones was extremely adamant about pointing out he has never asked Jason Garrett to stop calling plays and Garrett has never been adamant about keeping that role. He said, based off the team finishing 8-8 the last two years, it has allowed Jones to change his thinking or "preference" in terms of that. He no longer has a strong desire for his head coach to also call the plays. Jones said it will be Garrett's decision but he said he expects Bill Callahan to have a stronger role in the game-plan regardless if he's calling the plays or not. Click here for more.
- Miles Austin's future has been a hot topic around the combine with some reports suggesting Austin could be released. Jones said Austin remains in the plans for 2013 but said he has concerns over his health, which has been shaky the last two years. Jones said Austin's contract could be altered to help the Cowboys get under the salary cap. He chose his words wisely, but Jones made it clear Austin is in the plans for next year. For more, click here.
- The contract situation for Tony Romo was also mentioned early. Jones said there haven't been any major talks between the two sides, especially in Indianapolis, where Jones arrived late Friday night. But Jones isn't concerned a deal will get done.
- Speaking of Romo, Jones said he doesn't see a scenario where Romo won't be the quarterback in Dallas for the next few years. He even went as far to say he hopes Romo retires as a Cowboy.
- Jones wants Anthony Spencer to return but it's starting to sound like the Cowboys are coming to grips with the idea he could sign elsewhere. Jones said he doesn't expect the club can pay Spencer what he'll likely get in the open market.
- Back to Garrett and the new coaching staff, Jones said the staff was hand-picked by the head coach, despite what has been reported suggesting the owner has forced Garrett's hand. Jones said he only sat in for about "30 minutes" over two different interviews in Garrett's process of adding the six new coaches.
- When asked if he's ever considered stepping down as the general manager, Jones said he understands that change is often needed, especially when he realizes his team is around .500 since the last Super Bowl title and with one playoff win. But he reiterated his stance from 1989 when he said he would be involved with everything from "socks to jocks" and that is the only way he wants to operate. He also downplayed the importance of a middle-man GM. Jones said his ultimate goal is to "keep trying" to make it work. [embedded_ad]
- Jones said Dez Bryant is in "a better place" in his life than he was 7-8 months ago and doesn't think his wide receiver is involved in as many risky situations and is surrounded by better influences in his day-to-day atmosphere.
- And finally, Jones called the last two seasons the second-most disappointing time since he bought the Cowboys in 1989. Behind only the 1994 NFC Championship Game against the 49ers, which prevented three-straight Super Bowl titles, Jones said these past two seasons of 8-8 finishes with a chance to win the division in the final game have been utterly disappointing. He also said the Cowboys have wasted two great seasons by Tony Romo, who in his mind, has played at a level that should've landed his team in the postseason. For more, read here.