The naïve among us thought that Jerry Jones’s mercurial, fire and brimstone side was extinguished on the night he was begrudgingly convinced not to select Johnny Manziel in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

The truth is that it was strategically suppressed, manifesting outwardly in other ways, like Jones’s Machiavellian revenge plot against the league office for suspending Ezekiel Elliott or his bizarre foray into player safety debates.

But now that he’s watched his Cowboys lose to a sub-.500 Titans team in prime time, inside the football space station he built for his amusement (otherwise known as AT&T Stadium), all bets are off. The Cowboys might get wild again. The commander-in-chief might start lobbing some grenades.

We’ve seen cracks in the façade, of course. In Jason Garrett’s eight seasons as head coach, he’s made the playoffs twice and lost in the first round both times. Their trade deadline acquisition of Amari Cooper, who scored a touchdown in his debut Monday, was essentially a Hail Mary lifeline to the coach’s fledgling offense. The exuberant price they paid for an inconsistent first-round pick reflected both their desperation and ambition.

Dallas is now 3–5, firmly locked into third place amid a season where the division is ho-hum at best. Once a modest, uphill climb, their upcoming schedule (Philly, the red-hot Falcons, first-place Washington and the New Orleans Saints) is starting to resemble a march off the plank. What happens if there isn’t a miraculous turnaround?

From a personnel standpoint, the Cowboys are in the pressure cooker. Dak Prescott is a year away from being wildly expensive (his rookie deal expires after 2019). Ezekiel Elliott, if he’s smart, will start clamoring for a new deal soon in lieu of getting pounded into obscurity. Their offensive line will be a year older. So will 32-year-old defensive tent pole Sean Lee, who left Monday’s game with an injury.

Every season is the ideal season to make a run, but for Dallas, this is their best opportunity of the Prescott era. Most roster architects understand the difficulty of winning with a quarterback on a new deal, or, depending on their evaluation of Prescott, a new quarterback altogether.  

Jones was caught on camera during the game trying to keep himself from pounding the table in front of him. After the game, he did the verbal equivalent, telling NFL Network that he’s having a hard time describing his level of patience. He did not miss the opportunity to mention that Dallas should have played better, given that they’re coming off a bye week.

So it goes for the league’s dormant soap opera. Behind the scenes, the characters have been going about their daily lives, still capable of the same dramatic twists and turns. Will they reemerge after a disappointing post-game still intent on projecting the image that, despite some struggles, everything is going according to plan? Or is it a safer bet that the most outspoken man in football gets tired of holding his tongue for much longer?

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NOW ON THE MMQB: Former Viking Sharrif Floyd is suing athletic mega-surgeon Dr. James Andrews. … The Monday Afternoon Quarterback on a dark day for the division-leading Washington football team. … Why social injustice protests have not been a huge part of this year’s midterm elections.

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:Remembering the legendary Dr. Z. … Back in the day, when Tom Brady was a backup and Aaron Rodgers was a draft day slider. … Why Norv Turner is getting Andy Benoit all hot and bothered with this year’s Panthers offense.

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1. In search of a shakeup, the Lions have parted ways with their special teams coordinator. Matt Patricia is now on the coach’s survival scale.

2. Speaking of Patricia, I wonder how it feels to be owned by a newspaper headline in 2018?

3. Tired of being challenged by Robert Klemko to Madden games on Twitter, Dez Bryant has gone to New Orleans to work out for the Saints.

4. Area running back continues cryptic emoji use.

5. Curtis Samuel is finding his niche, and that should be scary for defenses.

6. Is there a growing concern over Aaron Rodger’ “lack of zip?”

7. Amy Adams Strunk and her push to revive the Titans.

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Now matter how your Tuesday turns out, take comfort in the fact that we are merely dust particles floating amid the unfathomable machinations of our dark, unforgiving universe.

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