leadership it so openly yearned for.
Many proclaimed bringing back Terrell Owens was a waste of money. Hmmm, 15 touchdown receptions and good behavior later, not so much. This team struggles to finish .500 without him this year. More gold.
Then there was Greg Ellis. Now admit it, how many of you screamed to cut his whiny butt during training camp or the first three weeks of the season he missed? But Jones remained patient, realizing there was no need to get all huffy and sanctimonious about some ungrateful or hypochondriac player when that player might be the key to defensive success. Again, a career-high 12½ sacks later and Jones could apply for Job status.
There's more. How about the gutsy call on the final cuts, deciding to place veteran kicker Martin Gramatica on injured reserve, meaning he was gone for the season, thus rolling the dice with rookie kicker Nick Folk? Uncanny. Folk earns Pro Bowl honors by missing only one field-goal attempt less than 50 yards (28) that wasn't blocked, meaning two altogether.
With such a hot hand, no wonder the Cowboys didn't stop there, two weeks into the season deciding to roll the dice on problem child Tank Johnson, knowing the one-time starting defensive tackle served hard time this past spring for probation violations involving gun registrations. No matter they would have to wait another six weeks for Johnson's suspension to be served, the Cowboys waited, and Johnson not only behaved himself, but gave them some depth at the nose tackle position immediately depleted by veteran Jason Ferguson's opening-game season-ending injury.
Amazing, all of it, all these great moves and great decisions.
Yeah, I know, sort of turns your stomach, though, doesn't it, almost as upsetting as last year's nearly injury-free season, and all the Cowboys could turn that good fortune into was a 9-7 record and one-and-done in the playoffs. There was just so much that went right, and I won't even get into the 12 Pro Bowl performances, along with all the best-ever ones and the best-since ones.
As Jones said, "I thought we were there, thought we had a chance."
But then all these dead-on decisions also remind us of the bundle of goodness wrapped into this painfully expired season, maybe lessening the hurt, knowing the future could be bright.
That realization may take a while to kick in, since in the NFL we've come to know you got to get while the gettin's good. Even for the owner.
"Could we have won that game and gone up there and played a great game against Green Bay?" Jones said on his morning radio show Tuesday. "I'll go to my grave believing we could do that."
But no, squandered, all of it.