IRVING, Texas – Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones has been named the Professional Football Writers of America’s Executive of The Year for his role in helping the franchise to its best season in the past five years.
The PFWA continued announcing its year-end awards on Thursday afternoon, naming Jones for the honor for the first time ever. Despite low expectation around the franchise heading into the year, Jones’ decisions helped set the stage for a 12-4 finish, an NFC East championship and the Cowboys’ first playoff win since 2009.
The Cowboys’ ground game helped pave the way to their success this past season, running behind an offensive line consisting of three first-round picks, all selected by Jones and the front office. Left tackle Tyron Smith, the Cowboys’ No. 9 overall pick in 2011, earned his second-straight All-Pro designation, while Travis Frederick, the No. 31 overall pick in 2013, earned his first Pro Bowl selection.
Most notably, Jones opted to draft Zack Martin at No. 16 overall in the 2014 draft, famously passing on quarterback Johnny Manziel. Martin was selected to the Pro Bowl in his first season, and he became the only rookie to be named All-Pro for 2014.
The offensive line wasn’t the only area deserving of recognition. The Cowboys signed Jeremy Mincey in free agency last spring to offset the decision to release DeMarcus Ware. Mincey paced the Dallas pass rush with six sacks on the season.
Perhaps Jones’ most impactful move on the Dallas defense came at the linebacker position after starter Sean Lee tore his ACL in spring OTAs. Jones traded with Baltimore to acquire Rolando McClain, who had retired twice since entering the league in 2010.
McClain responded well, to say the least, as he finished second on the team in tackles with 108. He added five quarterback pressures, a sack, two interceptions and a forced fumble in 13 games.
It’s worth noting that, of the Cowboys’ six Pro Bowlers – Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Smith, Frederick and Martin – five of them were drafted by Jones in the past five years.
The PFWA also announced its 2014 Coach of the Year, which it awarded to Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians.