OXNARD, Calif. — It’s a balmy, if not slightly chilled, air in Southern California as the Dallas Cowboys fire up training camp, but the heat to finally end their longstanding Super Bowl drought is rightfully similar to the scorching triple-digit sun rays they temporarily left behind in Texas. It’s been nearly three decades since owner Jerry Jones and the organization tasted victory at the highest level, and the Hall of Famer continues to make it clear that he “has no time for a bad time,” sensing his own mortality — following a list of tragic losses this offseason of several close to the club.
Jones was teary-eyed in speaking on some during the opening press conference of training camp, including the passing of his longtime assistant, Marilyn Love, but immediately became stern when faced with questions on if the Cowboys would ever again hoist a Lombardi trophy in his time as owner and general manager.
“I need to win it,” Jones said of the ever-elusive sixth franchise Super Bowl ring. “I need to win it.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that head coach Mike McCarthy would be jettisoned should the Cowboys fail to win a Super Bowl this season. Having again doubled down on his belief in McCarthy to lead the team to the Promised Land, Jones pulled back a bit when asked what he would deem a successful season in 2022 — setting his expectations at being present and, more importantly, competitive when January rolls around.
“I’ll be candid with you: there’s degrees [of success],” he added. “I want to be fair to everybody concerned. We need to be in the playoffs. We need to be viable in the playoffs to have a successful season.”
After finishing with an impressive 12-5 record last season that, at times, saw the Cowboys challenging for one of the top-two seeds in the NFC, they were unceremoniously embarrassed at AT&T Stadium by a hungrier and more physical San Francisco 49ers team on NFL Super Wild Card Weekend. And now having traded Amari Cooper, released La’el Collins and lost both Cedrick Wilson and Randy Gregory to free agency, it’s not absurd to posit the Cowboys roster being — at least on paper — worse than it was last year.
Time will tell if that’s the case, but it’s true they have a lot to sort out over the next few weeks ahead of their season opener against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who also just signed former first-team All-Pro Julio Jones to a deal.
But while desperately chasing a sixth ring, Jones is trying to balance enjoyment of the good moments while also understanding the Cowboys leaving a lot of meat on the bone — annually — and that has to change, sooner than later.
“When I look around at the teams that have been involved in the Super Bowls I’ve been involved in, or the people involved in the Super Bowls that I’ve been involved, then I’m thankful for the Super Bowls I’ve been involved,” said Jones. “I’m thankful for the record we had over the last year. We have a criticism this year.
“We won 12 games last year. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t get a little bit of feel-good out of those 12 games. I understand where our fans are and they should understand where I am. That’s not enough. But it’s enough to go again.”
And go again they must, but with a lot more pressure on McCarthy, his staff and players to finish this job this time around.