Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989. The team had just gone 3-13 the previous year. (Michael Irvin had already been drafted) Jerry hired Jimmy Johnson in 1989, and with the first overall pick in the draft (afforded to you when your team is the worst of the worst), they took Troy Aikman. The big move that Jerry made in 1989 though was the huge Herschel Walker trade. Which I'm sure in tandem with firing Landry was probably seen as lunacy at the time. This trade essentially pioneered the Cowboys and quickly brought them from being one of the worst teams in the nfl to becoming one of the best. Between 1991 and 1996 we never had a season under 10 wins. We won 3 super bowls. What most people don't realize is that there was no salary cap in the NFL until 1994. And what did Jerry do to try to keep the wins coming? He heavily back loaded contracts in order to still get key players like Deion Sanders (95) and Charles Haley (92). 1997 The offense was starting to fall apart, we tried to replace Jay Novacek with David LaFleur (who would ultimately retire early due to back issues iirc) and finally in 1998 Michael Irvin was forced to retire due to career ending injury. There is also this idea that Jerry completely ignored the offensive line, which isn't true. Between drafting Aikman and his retirement we drafted a total of 12 "first day" offensive linemen. 1999 In 1999 we weren't a horrible team, but without Irvin, we certainly weren't consistent on offense. We were ranked 11th in points scored and 5th in points allowed. 2000 Both Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith are aging at this point, what does Jerry try to do? He tries to make a big spash to try to rejuvenate this offense. What does he do? He trades two first round draft picks for Joey Galloway. A speed receiver who is a major threat in the NFL, who was in a contract issue with the Seahawks. He played only one game with Aikman gaining 62 yards and a touchdown before tearing his ACL in the 4th quarter of his first game. We would fall to 5-11, but without the first round draft pick to benefit from the early draft position, we would continue to turmoil. Aikman would be forced to retire in this year. And mind you we're dealing with some serious dead money through all of this, due to back loaded contracts that made it possible for us to win in the early/mid 90s. There was a point where we could barely man a full roster. I'm not sure if Dwayne Goodrich would have turned into something eventually, but him going to jail in 2003 certainly didn't help our roster develop given he was our first pick in 2000. 2001 Again we have no first round draft pick. We need a quarterback to replace Troy, and we go after Quincy Carter. We have the 53rd pick in the draft. We've already missed out on Michael Vick and Drew Brees, but it's not as though any quarterback drafted afterwards had a stellar career. 2002 We go 5-11 again under Carter and Chad Hutchinson. 2003 & Parcells Era Jerry Jones hires hall of fame coach Bill Parcells. In 2005 he would direct us to move our efforts towards the 3-4 rather than the 4-3. Something we did not have the coaches for or the scouting department. Note that we had the #2 defense in the nfl in points and #1 defense in the nfl in yards in 2003 and while we weren't as good in 2004, I would suggest that had a great deal to do with a sophomore slump by Newman, and a major slide in cornerback quality in 04. We were still 10th against the run. Players like Pete Hunter and Lance Frazier certainly don't help you. The transition to attempt to scout and draft 3-4 players resulted in failed and semi failed draft picks such as: 2005 Marcus Spears 2006 Bobby Carpenter 2007 Anthony Spencer* 2009 Jason Williams Victor Butler Brandon Williams I would like to note that it was also Parcell's drive to get a two tight end system going in dallas. Anthony Fasano (5th tight end in the 2006 draft) and when we tried to replace him in 2008 (notably after Parcells) with Martellus Bennett (4th tight end in the 2008 draft). At any rate we found a huge gem in Tony Romo. Thanks to Sean Payton (who Parcells helped drive out, not that we cared to stop him). 2007 We go 13-3 and are first in the NFC in the regular season. Terrell Owen gets injured late at the end of the year, and we end up losing to the Giants despite Owens playing, by 4 points. The Giants go on to win the Super Bowl. In 2008, the offense was struggling, but Jerry Jones was confident in that team from 2007. He makes another huge trade to try to set the offense right by getting Roy Williams. It simply did not work, and Jones receives a great deal of animosity for the move. I think we should have made a move for Anquan Boldin who went for much less, but regardless of that. I would say this was a terrible move, but Jerry wanted to try to win then. Romo ends up missing 3 games, and we miss the playoffs, going 9-7. Is it possible that if Romo doesn't get hurt that we make the playoffs? Absolutely. All we needed was one more win to make the playoffs over the Eagles. That being said we weren't a great team, and it's clear we probably wouldn't have gotten far, but we certainly did compete with some teams that were in there in the final 4. We actually played all 4 of those teams that year, and while we didn't win any of the games, we were within 7 each time (except for one of the routes against the Eagles, though we did beat them earlier in the year). 2009 We went 11-5, won the NFC East, and beat the Super Bowl champion Saints ending their undefeated season. We lost to the Vikings who lost to the Saints, who went on to win the Super Bowl. Our offensive line simply couldn't stand up against the Vikings, but we were certainly not a slouch of a team. 2010 One of the worst years in the Romo era. People point to Romo going 1-5 before being hurt, but people who watched those games, know those loses weren't on him. Wade Phillips had lost the team, and it all came tumbling down from there. Since the Romo era began, only 1 year have we not been in contention to make the playoffs. And that was the year where he was injured after 6 games. We went 6-10, but with Romo, we still probably could have made the playoffs. With Brad Johnson this team lost three games by 3 points or less. Maybe we beat Jacksonville, and maybe we beat New York. My point is since the recovery of the 5-11 seasons, and missing out on those draft picks, and weathering the storm of not having any quarterbacks until Romo, we haven't been all that bad. So I think Jerry Jones should get a lot of credit along with as much blame as he gets. It hasn't been nearly as bad as people think it was, and many of the moves he has made, have been in the moment at the least rational. For all the crap we gave Zimmer, it certainly didn't take him long to turn around the Bengals defense. People give a lot of credit to Parcells for the turn around of this team. And honestly I just don't see it. The reality is if Parcells doesn't come to the rescue we probably suck for another year, and then end up with Eli Manning or Phillip Rivers. Similarly to that I would suggest that the success Jerry Jones has had in the Parcells-Romo era, has actually hindered us. We've been so talented that we've ended up just middle of the pack or worse in terms of the draft. Highest draft pick since the Romo era began (except for trading up)? 9th Tyron Smith, after a season where Romo missed 10 games... Other than that? 14th (and we traded down further). People gush over the 49ers, and how they're such a well run organization. Could it have anything to do with having 7th pick in 2011, 11th pick in 2010, 17th pick in 2010, 10th pick in 2009, 29th pick in 2008, 11th pick in 2007, 28th pick in 2007, 6th pick in 2006, 22nd pick in 2006, 1st pick in 2005. Why do they have multiple picks in some years? Because when you suck, you get to trade down, and put picks together. It would have been awesome to collect from those 3 5-11 years. But we only got Joey Galloway and Roy Williams and Terence Newman out of it. I wouldn't say that is absolutely terrible. If Aikman and Galloway would have been able to play together also with Ismail, maybe we could have put together a super bowl in 2000. Instead of the passing game truly struggling. If you base things on our 5th rated defense in 1999 you might think that was a wise move. Have we had playoff success? Certainly we haven't, but as I've shown there have been a lot of circumstances to create that perfect storm, and it hasn't just been Jerry's ineptitude. It also has to do with the fact that we have one of the toughest divisions in football. Combine that with a total team collapse, salary cap hell, some key injuries, and missing premium draft picks due to risks taken, and a few bad drafts to be honest, it's fuel for disaster. The number 1 person I would blame would be Bill Parcells. I find it funny that he gets so much praise for reviving our team. I would say he was a bandage on a gunshot wound.