Jerry Jones obviously spent a lot of time over the offseason speaking to his coaching staff and players about what went wrong in the bust of a season that was 2008. Outside Tony Romo’s injury, the entire team struggled to find an identity on offense, and that confusion allowed the one player that did have one, T.O., to take control.
With that much power, Matt Mosley notes that T.O. had to go, even with the loss of value.
But in the end, the people he trusts at Valley Ranch may have finally convinced him that T.O. was too divisive a force in the locker room. I talked to a source at Valley Ranch late Wednesday evening who said that T.O.’s future was discussed in meetings Wednesday, but that Jones hadn’t made a final decision when most people left the building.
This is a clear admission on Jones’ part that the team couldn’t get to the next level (winning a playoff game) with T.O. If you just go on the receiver’s production (38 TDs in three seasons), it’s hard to believe the Cowboys would move on without him. But T.O. had become the most powerful voice in the locker room and head coach Wade Phillips and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett couldn’t compete with him.
By putting Owens on the street, the Cowboys are dropping the passing game — some pun intended — in the hands of Williams and attempting to justify all those picks they spent to get him.
While he hasn’t quite fallen off yet, T.O. would have begun to decline over the next few seasons, and he probably won’t take it very well as he degrades into a No. 2 receiver. Jones is abandoning the money and reputation he sunk into Owens in order to have Williams fill the void early and save the team more grief.
Let’s hope they saw something in Williams this offseason that looked better than he did last season.
Williams’ fantasy value jumps now that he moves to the No. 1 role, but can we trust a guy who had just 19 catches in a Cowboys uniform in 2008? He doesn’t assume T.O.’s spot in my fantasy wide receiver rankings, but floating the gap between the second and third tier, he’s got some big upside when he clicks with Romo.
Opposite Williams, Miles Austin or Patrick Crayton will have to step up in a big way — and perhaps if Austin wins the job, he’ll finally become that explosive receiver we saw flashes of last season.
It’s likely that this move signifies the Cowboys shift towards the run game. Jason Garrett didn’t know what to do with what he had last season, but in 2009, he knows he can feed the ball to Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.
Maybe this move will turn the Cowboys around and get them a playoff win, but we all know Jon Kitna’s going to be the real reason they make it to the postseason … right?
The real tragedy here is for T.O. who just wanted to end his career as a Cowboy.
Owens told the Dallas Morning News in May 2008 he “definitely” wanted to finish his career with the Cowboys.
Now we have another unemployed, aging industry veteran who’s got to find a new job while re-examining his personal life in his new reality show. Blame the economy.