INDIANAPOLIS -- Over the past few years, Jerry Jones has been able to come up with a phrase that has summed up the Dallas Cowboys' offseason.
A few years ago, it was "Romo friendly."
Last year, "the window is closing."
So far this offseason, the operative word has been "uncomfortable."
With back-to-back 8-8 seasons, coach Jason Garrett has been made uncomfortable. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan became so uncomfortable that he was fired. So, too, was running backs coach Skip Peete. Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis and tight ends coach John Garrett found new jobs. Assistant head coach/wide receivers Jimmy Robinson moved to a consultant's role.
But what makes the general manager uncomfortable? What puts Jones' job in jeopardy?
Jones reiterated at the NFL scouting combine that he will remain the general manager for as long as he wants -- no matter how long the Cowboys' Super Bowl drought extends (currently 17 years), no matter how long the playoff drought extends (currently three), no matter how few playoff games they win (two since 1995).
"I pretty much go with what I did the night I bought the team," Jones said. "When I bought the team, the night I bought it, I said I was going to be the GM. I couldn't be involved to the degree I had been involved in ownership and not do the things the GM does in spending the money and all of those kinds of things. It would be a façade if someone else were sitting in my shoes and someone thought they were spending the money. It would be deception."
Monday marked the 24th anniversary of Jones' purchase of the Cowboys, and he's been the GM since.
He does not separate the ability to evaluate players and put together personnel from his ability to spend the money, even if 30 other teams in the NFL do it differently (Mike Brown of the Cincinnati Bengals also owns the team and serves as GM). Jones noted the Cowboys are one of the NFL's top spending teams as if it was a badge of honor. Then he damned his own performance as GM by noting that the Cowboys are 128-128 since 1997.
"After 24 years of looking at all the miscues, all the pluses and everything else, it damn sure makes you want to do something different when you wake up here and have won half your games over the last 15 years," Jones said. "Where I am on things with the Cowboys or in general, I look at things and say, 'You know what? It's not good. I'm not satisfied with it.'
"I've had a lot of great things happen, but that's what I'm dissatisfied with. We've got to start knocking on the door."
There is no doubt Jones wants to win. There is also no doubt he wants to do it this way.
Not long after Jones bought the Cowboys on Feb. 25, 1989, Lupe Murchison told him he needed to have somebody "in between me and the team because if you don't have a scapegoat to make the change with, then you're going to all the time get the blame.
"And she's pretty smart," Jones said. "And so what you basically see is that right there. Somebody is going to get blame when you don't win. Now, we haven't won a Super Bowl in X number of years. Whoever has been sitting in the general manager spot or whoever was the more logical person to get the blame was going to get the blame. Right? Had to. That's just the way it is. And certainly the coaches are involved. That's sports. That's what it is. So it is not one bit surprising to me (that I) get blame or be the subject of criticism, when I don't have a GM there that could shoulder a lot of the criticism.
"I would grant you the decisions that have been made over the years have not produced a Super Bowl, two Super Bowls or three Super Bowls that I would like to have been a part of. And the only thing I am going to do there is keep trying and then make sure I get the credit when we do get that one. Y'all are going to give it to me, aren't you?"
After all, the owner is the first person in line when the NFL commissioner hands over the Lombardi Trophy.