Jerry Jones: In Danger of Becoming the New Al Davis?

Al Davis was the force behind the Oakland Raiders for the better part of 45 years as owner and general manger. With Davis in charge of football operations, the Raiders won three Superbowls (XI, XV, XVIII) in a seven-year span, and for a while were the dominant team and most recognisable teams in the NFL. They relocated from Oakland to Los Angeles and back again because of the facilities and finances involved in each location at the time.¬†However, during Davis’ later years the teams struggled. In part, this was due to the draft choices of Davis, who picked players with speed to fit into his philosophy on football. It was also in part to poor hiring decisions on the coaching staff and loyalty occasionally taking priority over what was good for the team. The Raiders have not made the Superbowl since their defeat in 2003, and Davis passed away in 2011.

Jerry Jones is the force behind the Dallas Cowboys, and has been since he bought the team in the offseason in early 1989. With Jones as owner and general manager, the Cowboys have won three Superbowls (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX) in a four-year span. In the 1990s they were one of the dominant teams in the NFL, winning six division championships and making eight playoff appearances. Cowboys jerseys are among the most sold out of all the NFL teams, and they are one of the most watched on television. Forbes has valued the franchise as worth approximately $2.1 billion.

Since Jones took over Football operations in Dallas, the Cowboys rank 11th in win percentage (53.8%) in the league behind

  • Pittsburgh: 62.2% (2 Superbowls)
  • Green Bay: 60.6% (2 Superbowls)
  • San Francisco: 58.2% (2 Superbowls)
  • New England: 57.6% (3 Superbowls)
  • Philadelphia: 57.5%
  • Denver: 57.1 (2 Superbowls)
  • Tennessee: 55.2%
  • New York Giants: 54.9% (3 Superbowls)
  • Baltimore: 54.7% (1 Superbowl)
  • Indianapolis: 54.6% (1 Superbowl)
  • Dallas: 53.8% (3 Superbowls)

This is a decent, and a much better win percentage over the same time period than the other franchises that have or had owners as GMs, Oakland (45.7%) and Cincinnati (43.0%). The problem is that while Jones and the Cowboys have three rings and a massive new stadium, since they won their last title after the 1995 season they have won two playoff games, one after the ’96 season and one after the ’09 season. Over that period, they’ve lost seven playoff games and failed to reach the postseason in nine other seasons. As a side note, they’ve also collected six 10-loss seasons.

So what does this all come down to? Jones needs to consider bringing someone in to run the football side of the team, while he focuses on the business. Yes, he has had success in the past, but the recent team struggles have been down to poor drafting, some poor trades (Roy Williams, anyone?) and mistakes in free agency. This is where the GM can either make or break the team, and at the moment Jerry Jones the GM is making life hard for Jerry Jones the owner of the team. There needs to be a split made, or there is a danger that the poor decision-making and lack of touch that plagued the Raiders during the last decade of the Al Davis era will also come to haunt the Cowboys.