Commentary

Jones was shaken by last year's loss

Updated: January 6, 2010, 1:37 AM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Jerry Jones is a risk taker.

You don't own an NFL team and build a $1.2 billion stadium without taking a few chances.

Jones took one on coach Wade Phillips, and it hasn't paid off.

He hopes it will on Saturday when the Dallas Cowboys face the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFC wild card game at Cowboys Stadium.

For all the chances or risks that Jones takes, his confidence has never been better in what his team is trying to accomplish now.

But last January, Jones' confidence was nearly destroyed. The Cowboys, with a chance to reach the postseason with a victory, were beaten by the Eagles, 44-6.

It was one of the worse losses in Jones' history of owning the Cowboys.

It might have been one of the worse losses in franchise history.

It was so bad that when Jones was reminded Tuesday of how the 2008 season ended, he got emotional.

"Again, how I felt ... my confidence was shaken," Jones said quietly at a news conference.

The easy answer is for Jones to leave the football decisions to somebody else. It's almost as if people forgot Jones helped build three Super Bowl championship teams with two different head coaches.

Yes, the Cowboys are not the same team they were in the 1990s.

In the last decade, the Cowboys were 0-3 in the playoffs with six winning seasons. Of those six winning seasons, the Cowboys missed the postseason twice, 2005 and 2008. Jones also hired three coaches, Dave Campo, Bill Parcells and Phillips.

None produced a playoff win, something that has eluded Jones since 1996.

"So all of those things as I look back over these years, I couldn't have imagined that," said Jones, who also called the drought of playoff wins surreal.

Jones takes it personally when people question whether he knows what he's doing. Yes, there were some bad drafts: Dwayne Goodrich, Kareem Larrimore, Quincy Carter, Al Johnson, Jacob Rogers and James Marten to name a few.

But the Cowboys have also drafted DeMarcus Ware, Terence Newman, Jason Witten, Bradie James, Anthony Spencer, Andre Gurode and Mike Jenkins.

On the current roster, the team has two Pro Bowlers, Tony Romo and Miles Austin, who were not even drafted. There have been some bad trades, including one involving a certain wideout from the University of Texas.

Jones hasn't done this alone. He's got Stephen Jones, his son, and an array of scouts and personnel men helping him make small and big decisions. He listens to everyone before making a decision.

But more than anything, Jones believes he's doing the right things.

He doesn't want to fire his head coach. He likes him. Likes the family. Likes the friendship. When Jones hired Phillips in 2007, the owner choked back some emotions then, too.

After that terrible game in Philadelphia, Jones felt embarrassed. He never wanted to feel that way again.

Saturday night Jones hopes the man he's taking a risk on, Phillips, provides him with a different type of emotion.

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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