Tyron Smith’s Injury Shows Pitfalls of Cowboys Optimism That Bedevil Jerry Jones

Tyron Smith’s Injury Shows Pitfalls of Cowboys Optimism That Bedevil Jerry Jones

As the Dallas Cowboys began training camp, team owner Jerry Jones once again revealed what remains a fundamental flaw in his role as general manager:

He sees his franchise through a warped forcefield of relentless optimism, arguably more than any other power broker in the NFL.

“My curse,” he called in July, describing his penchant for fixating only on past successes.

When Jones describes it that way, he’s half right and half wrong. Correct in seeing it as a curse, incorrect in seeing it as a hexagon inflicting only Jerry Jones. If anything, this prism has become an overarching problem for the entire Cowboys franchise. And it seems to be getting worse instead of getting better.

See Thursday’s news that Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith has suffered another significant injury, this time a left hamstring injury that could knock him out until December or later. Measured for what it really is, most Cowboys see it in stark terms: a significant loss that will exacerbate an already considerable talent drain since the end of last season. Not to mention the spotlight on yet another area of ​​the Cowboys roster that Jones overrated coming this season.

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That’s a reasonable answer to the hole made in Smith’s absence. Another problem created by another dice roll gone wrong. And there have been quite a few of them since last offseason, from betting on Smith to stay healthy (which he hasn’t had in years) to chasing a salary cap surplus, releasing right tackle La’el Collins and trading wide receiver Amari Cooper for nothing, falling short of in-depth investments in the wideout and offensive line.

All of this represents garden variety mistakes often made in the NFL. Things like that happen. But if enough happens, the general manager is fired. With Jones shelving these shoes in Dallas, that can’t happen. And the result is having someone in control who seems to have an alarmingly persistent habit (or fault) of overestimating the state of the football product or the problems that plague it.

Make no mistake, Dallas is in trouble here. The offensive line was already under the microscope. Now, there’s a serious potential problem if this isn’t remedied with some sort of change before the season starts. In some ways, this injury is a worst-case scenario for an offense that was already switching roles due to offseason losses while leaning on some risky health bets. Jones basically dismissed those worries with a smile in July, stating flatly, “I think we’re in better shape to run than we were last year.”

Of course yes. Because of Jerry’s distortion field curse.

By his own admission, Jerry Jones

By his own admission, Jerry Jones’ “curse” is that he views the Cowboys through a much more optimistic prism than everyone else. Just look at his response to Tyron Smith’s injury. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

This is a big part of the problem with Jerry Jones continuing to trade with his hands on the list. Because he always seems to look at his players and imagine that he’s going to get the best out of each one of them. Or that the team will have the necessary breaks to overcome the problems. That’s why he sees the defense stepping in to save the day, quarterback Dak Prescott overcoming losses in the receiver position, inexperienced players stepping into the offensive line – and what always seems to be his favorite flag of optimism, Ezekiel Elliott somehow taking Dallas to the promised land again.

Consider what Jones said about Elliott during a Thursday appearance on ESPN: “He’s in the best shape he’s ever been in. It’s still a fact: we go like Zeke goes. I know it’s a lot on Dak’s shoulders, but let’s go as Zeke goes. He is very capable of being everything we wanted [him] to be.”

Fair. Now filter those words by the current state of the NFL. Go back and find the last Super Bowl winning team that had an attack carried by a bell cow running back. Or better yet, identify the last Super Bowl MVP awarded to a running back. That hasn’t happened in this century and the last time it did, a solid part of the Cowboys roster wasn’t even born.

But Jones sees Zeke through his distortion field, eternally optimistic that this is the season he will finally break through. Just as he is already very optimistic about Tyron Smith’s healthy return in December, despite the fact that Smith has yet to have surgery. It doesn’t matter. Jones is already betting on Smith’s return taking place in the midst of a playoff push that is apparently playing in a loop in his head.

“We’ll have him and we’ll have him at the right time,” Jones told ESPN of Smith’s return. “We’ll have him in that San Francisco [playoff] game, the equivalent of it, that we had last year.”

That’s quite a statement about a player who has had injury problems for six straight years. But it’s in the hallmarks of an owner and general manager who seemingly always convinces himself that the best is just around the corner. A better team, a better coaching job, a better run in the Super Bowl. All fueled by a seemingly limitless belief that this time will be different.

Followed by an outcome that hadn’t happened in a long, long time.

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