If Jerry Jones was smart, he’d have called his pilot Monday morning and would’ve been eating his bacon and beans aboard his Gulfstream G-IV headed to Palm Beach International. He’d have had a black SUV waiting to drive him directly to Doug Pederson’s million-dollar fishing boat, which, by mid-morning, would’ve been back in its slip in Jupiter, cooler still empty of tarpon but its helm piloted by an available Super Bowl coach.
Jones would have given Pederson a cigar and a beer and then ushered him into the SUV, pushed him up the steps of the plane, landed in Dallas by happy hour, which they would have marked with cocktails in his helicopter on the way to The Star. By Monday night at 8 o’clock he’d have fired Mike McCarthy, given a sham interview to Duce Staley to fulfill the Rooney Rule, and hired Pederson as his next head coach.
Because Doug Pederson would win a Super Bowl in Dallas next season. Nobody else will. Heck, with all of Dallas’ talent, Pederson might could win Jerry two.
But, alas, Jerry Jones is not smart. Jerry Jones is vain. He is proud. So, he is doomed.
He’s too proud to admit he made a massive mistake in 2020 when, after he finally fired ineffectual Jason Garrett, he hired the even more ineffectual McCarthy, who, in NFL circles, is known as The Man Who Wasted Aaron Rodgers’ Prime.
He’s too proud to admit that Kellen Moore, his 33-year-old offensive coordinator who keeps failing, is nowhere near being head-coach material. It was, after all, Moore who called the idiotic quarterback keeper with no timeouts left that ended the Cowboys’ chances to win their wild-card game Sunday.
And, of course, he’s too proud to hire a rival’s most beloved coach ... isn’t he?
Maybe not. After all, the Packers and Cowboys kind of hate each other.
Hand in glove
Pederson might not be perfect — he tanked the Eagles’ 2020 finale, and he’s said some dumb stuff about Dallas — but he’s the perfect fit for this imperfect position. Dallas 2022 isn’t much different from Philadelphia 2017.
Remember, Pederson didn’t win Super Bowl LII with a well-groomed young quarterback. He won it with a flawed veteran quarterback named Nick Foles, who, really, is just a willowy version of Dak Prescott.
Pederson also inherited a roster flush with prime talent when he arrived: defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, defensive end Brandon Graham, right tackle Lane Johnson, center Jason Kelce, tight end Zach Ertz, safety Malcolm Jenkins, guard Brandon Brooks. That foundation preexisted Pederson.
Pederson did, however, win in Philly, a town where only winning matters, a town where you cannot hide — just like Dallas. Pederson handled a merciless media and fan base, just like Dallas’s. Pederson spent his professional career around insufferable prima donnas: Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Mike Holmgren, Don Shula, and, yes, even affable Andy Reid and fatherly Jeffrey Lurie.
Prescott, DeMarcus Lawrence, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Jerry Jones? No problem.
Pederson is a passable passing teacher, but he’s no quarterback whisperer. His finest coaching moments have come with experienced pupils.
He remade Michael Vick in Philadelphia, polished Alex Smith in Kansas City, and, while he did coach Carson Wentz for five seasons, it was Foles who delivered Pederson’s biggest wins. Pederson was 11-2 in games in which Foles played significant minutes, and all but two of those were either playoff games or carried massive postseason implications.
Anyway, the other jobs aren’t right for him.
Jacksonville? Well, there’s little evidence that Pederson is equipped to mold a young quarterback like Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence. Pederson, after all, didn’t mold Carson Wentz in Philadelphia. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich and QB coach John DeFilippo developed Wentz. Wentz actually regressed after Reich and DeFilippo left him to Pederson.
With that in mind, Denver, Chicago, and Miami aren’t great spots for Pederson, either, considering their quarterbacks’ status. Minnesota’s stuck in neutral with Kirk Cousins. So are the Raiders and Derek Carr. Both places also need a general manager.
You also don’t want Doug Pederson to babysit a bad team like Texans or Giants. He lacks the constitution; Pederson needs hope to stay interested.
You do want Doug Pederson to oversee talented veterans with strong work ethics. That’s what Pederson had in Philadelphia, where he won four playoff games in five years. Dallas has won four playoff games in 25 years.
You do want Doug Pederson, a self-styled good ol’ boy with Louisiana ties, to present a unified, barefoot-and-straw-hat front with Jones, a good ol’ boy from Arkansas. They could launch a chain of pork belly and Hoppin’ John restaurants. Soo-wee.
This is a no-brainer.
But, even for that, Jerry Jones lacks the requisite organ.
We’re just trying to help the Cowboys here. Jerry needs help, but he’s too smug to see it.
He’ll look at their 12-win regular season, and ignore their 0-3 record against playoff teams since Halloween (their season-finale win against the Eagles doesn’t count, since the Eagles rested their starters).
The Cowboys committed 14 penalties in their playoff loss to the 49ers, a game they played at home. This was not an aberration; they led the NFL with 127 penalties this season. Pederson’s first four teams never reached the top five.
Jones, himself, is not without redeeming qualities. He’s a good talent evaluator. He’s a spectacular interview. But, from Chan Gailey to Dave Campo to retreaded Bill Parcells to Wade Phillips to Garrett to McCarthy, he’s a been a poor judge of coach flesh.
If the status quo is bad for Dallas, it’s not bad for everyone.
Jones’ retention of McCarthy will be to the benefit of the Eagles, as well as the Buccaneers, Rams, Packers, 49ers, Cardinals, and any other NFC franchise with realistic plans to reach the playoffs in the near future.
It also will benefit sportswriters, who will continue to have Mike McCarthy to make fun of, not to mention Jerry Jones.
Because, by the time Jones does fire McCarthy, Jones will have wasted his roster’s best years and be burning in salary-cap hell.