INDIANAPOLIS** – Owner/general manager Jones would have kept former head coach Tom Landry another year if he had the chance to take it back.
Tuesday will mark the Jones' 25-year anniversary of the day he bought the team from Bum Bright in 1989, and dismissing Landry at the time in the beginning of that tenure is a decision that affects him. One multi-Super Bowl winner in Landry was replaced by a coach in Jimmy Johnson who would do the same.
"If I had a chance to do it over again, I would've waited a year and just got my feet on the ground a little bit more and probably just gone with the staff that we had and then later made the ultimate change that I made," Jones said.
The hasty decision drew the ire of many, despite the success that would follow. It's one of his major regrets he still remembers after taking over as the owner. Jones said Bright insisted to make the change rather than Jones, but that didn't happen. Looking back, Jones said he might've decided to take Bright up on the offer.
"He did insist that, 'I should make this change. You shouldn't. You should have a clean slate. I will make the change,'" Jones recalled. "I wanted to and felt that it was pretty obvious that changes were being made because I was taking the team, and I wanted to look Coach Landry in the eye, visit with him about that rather than having it done just through the actual purchase closing procedure that would normally come."
Ware's Future [embedded_ad]
No decision's been made on the futures of DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin or any of the other veteran Cowboys players with some of the pricier contracts on the team.
Jones wouldn't get into the details of Ware's contract and whether or not he'd ask the defensive end for a pay cut, but he said the Cowboys have been counting on him to be the best player on defense and are paying him that way.
"No one has been a better and is a better Dallas Cowboy than DeMarcus Ware," he said. "He has been exemplary in every way. But the facts are in football, when you start not being able to practice and you start not being able to really get your reps, then you can be DeMarcus Ware, who is a Hall of Famer, you can be DeMarcus Ware and get compromised by not being able to do fundamental things to get ready. So I look at that. Those are things you have to look at."
Jones said it's essential the Cowboys do everything they can to compete and win now in 2014, particularly considering where Tony Romo's at in his career. He said all options are being considered with Ware, and he added that across the board no final decisions have been made on player contracts.
"There is thinking about what to do on my part, on Stephen (Jones') part," Jerry Jones said. "It's certainly being thought about, but have we really sat down here and made some good firm decisions about what we are going to do there? No."
He said there's no time set to make that decision on Ware, and it doesn't necessarily have to be made right when free agency begins. He said he hasn't spoken with Ware's agent about these specific issues.
"Again, I wouldn't discuss timing because I don't have a time," Jones said. "Could do it this afternoon. Could do it tomorrow afternoon or could do it a week from today, or two weeks from today. But, no, we haven't thought about it. I'm not planning on visiting with him today, not DeMarcus, his agent.
"The easiest thing in the world is to change and go look for something new, something fresh, something being a style, a player, that kind of thing. It's easy to make that decision. Now you have to, while you are sitting there saying that, 'OK, where do I go from here?' And what type of player am I going to have out there? You have got to roll the clock forward and see what life is like when you line up against the Giants."
The running backs at the NFL Combine worked out and competed in drills while Jones spoke to the media from his bus in Indianapolis on Sunday.
Jones hinted that the running back spot may not an area of particular interest this year in the draft because he likes what's currently on his roster, but he later followed up by saying he wouldn't rule out the possibly of adding a back before the season begins.
"That's the reason why we're talking here, because the running backs are going out here," Jones said with a smile. "But I feel good about where we are at running back. That doesn't mean we won't bring in another potentially very competitive running back at all, but I feel good about it."
Jones admitted the defensive line is an area of need, but he wouldn't discount taking a strong offensive line candidate if he's high on the draft board. Jones said his offense isn't as prolific as Denver's was, but he believes it can be among the league's best as is and that the focus should be on defense.
"I think we've got work to do on defense, serious work to do on defense, and I think we've got the players and the horses to be a heck of a really productive one of the top offensive teams," Jones said. "I think we're there right now on offense, and I think we're good enough on the offensive line. If we're going to add something, I think that's where you'll probably look at, but I do think we're good enough to get there on that side of the ball."
Despite his focus on defense, he noted that he likes the depth on both fronts and at linebacker and discussed his affinity for the young safeties and the options at strong side linebacker.
"Frankly, we like where are with our young guys," Jones said. "Some of them don't have the time on them. We like where we are at safety, and we like where we are at Sam linebacker, strong linebacker. We actually got three or four guys we think can really do a good job."