Everyone has an opinion on how the Cowboys front office is handling offseason negotiations with both its superstars and the potential missing pieces that could bring a sixth Super Bowl title to Dallas. Add former safety Darren Woodson to the list of those who take issue with how the Jones family is running the show.
The Ring of Honor legend and current ESPN analyst spoke with Jean-Jacques Taylor and Matt McClearin on JaM Session on ESPN Dallas 103.3 [KESN-FM] recently, and raised a few eyebrows with rather pointed comments about his former employers, specifically letting them know they should be looking at acquiring outside talent to augment the in-house young stars they have on hand. When things got specific, he didn’t hold back from saying acquiring a player like safety Earl Thomas could be exactly what is needed, just like what owner Jerry Jones did during Woodson’s early years.
“My first year, Charles Haley was brought in on the football team,” Woodson said. “And there was a certain reason why he was brought on the team, and it was more so trying to get this defense to try and have a winning mindset and have this defense have a swagger about them.
“And I think it’s the sort of the same thing with Earl Thomas,” Woodson added.
“This is a young secondary. I mean extremely young, especially in the cornerback position. You bring in a guy like Earl Thomas; he’s going to lift the entire secondary. Not only the secondary, but the linebackers as well because of the knowledge of the game: he’s a coach that’s going to be on the field, basically, an extension of the coaching staff. He’s familiar with [defensive backs coach Kris] Richard. They know each other extremely well, and he knows this defense like the back of his hand.
And there is not a guy in this league that you’re going to outwork. You will not outwork Earl Thomas as far as preparation and getting ready for games. He’s just that type of football player. And I think he would help this team tremendously as far as… taking the ball away. That will increase, and that is a big problem this secondary had had over the years. They haven’t taken the ball away, and that absolutely changes with Earl Thomas.”
Jones spoke over the weekend about urgency in winning another title with this group of personnel. Woodson agrees but thinks Jones may actually be part of the problem.
“Here’s my issue with the Cowboys. There’s only a limited time. I mean, we know how this league works: you have a limited window of growth, especially with contract situations that are going to be coming up with Zeke [Elliott] and with Dak [Prescott] and those guys, DeMarcus Lawrence, so many players. They’re all coming up at some point. There’s a limited window you have to maximize those young men, and if you don’t build around them and put them in successful situations and have offensive minds or defensive minds that can really lift their game, you’re doing them an injustice. You’re doing them a complete injustice. And that’s a shot right at Jerry Jones. Jerry Jones, [and] Stephen Jones need to surround their young talent with either coaches or players that can really help lift those young stars to the next level.”
Woodson recalled how, even with Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin making up the vaunted Triplets in his day, it wasn’t until Jones and coach Jimmy Johnson surrounded them with offensive linemen, defensive playmakers, and coaches like Norv Turner that they hoisted a trophy.
Is Kellen Moore the next Turner? Is Thomas the new Haley? Woodson says he doesn’t know. But he sure hopes so, for the sake of the organization that means so much to him.
“This is like blood for me,” Woodson said. “You know how it is with family. When you have family, you’re more critical with your family than anybody. And that’s how I feel about it. Do I love the Joneses? Absolutely. Would do anything for them. But at the same time, this organization needs — this fanbase needs — a championship. Do whatever it takes to get there.”