Thoughts On The End Of The Landry Era

Discussion in 'History Zone' started by RiggoForever, Jun 9, 2006.

  1. RiggoForever

    RiggoForever Benched

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    For those of you that have been Cowboys fans a long time, I was wondering what the general attitude was in Dallas when Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson came in and cleared house in 1989? How long did it take you to adjust to a new regime?

    When I read about Landry having 20 straight winning seasons, my mouth drops. That has to be one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of professional sports. I don't think it will ever be duplicated.

    I can remember in the mid to late 80's, my father (who hated the Cowboys), telling me that "he's the only coach the Cowboys have ever had". At the time, I had no idea what that meant, and had no idea of the reverence in that statement for him, even as a die hard Skins fan.

    If Joe Gibbs was fired after a couple of losing seasons, I'd still be beside myself because of what he's done for the team and the area as a whole...and Gibbs has been a head coach only 1/2 the time of Landry.

    My eyes pop open when I look back and see that players like Bill Bates, Michael Irvin, Nate Newton, Ken Norton, and Mark Tuinei were all brought to Dallas by Landry. He has to get at least some of the credit for the future Dallas dynasty.

    I just wish I was a bit older so I could remember more of the guy. He seems like he wasn't only a great coach, but he redefined the way the game is played as well.
  2. burmafrd

    burmafrd Benched

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    A lot of the problem with the late Landry years was that he no longer had a good staff and the scouting department stank it up. I happen to think that with the right personell the Flex could still be a good D but it certainly takes more time and effort to build it- and in this day and age you do not have that. I do not think as regards to coaching he was declining but with the other problems it was clear that major changes needed to be made. I have no problem with JJ wanting his own coach- I just DESPISED the way he did it.
  3. Yeagermeister

    Yeagermeister Active Member

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    I was stationed overseas when it happened and like most Cowboys fans I was ticked but not so much that it happened but the way it happened. Coach Landry deserved to leave under better terms.
  4. Jarv

    Jarv Loud pipes saves lives. Zone Supporter

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    I could write pages and pages of what I thought of the man. But to keep it short...

    Player (Giants), player/coach (Giants), coach of a new franchise team (That did not even get to draft, no less 1st pick)...

    Inovation in Defense (4-3), Inovation in offense with line hitch, movement and brought back the shotgun...Computers to draft, family man, spiritual man,great results (as mentione, 20 straight winning seasons...Not sure how many straight playoff berths too)...

    Bottom line he represented class in the NFL.
  5. lurkercowboy

    lurkercowboy Well-Known Member

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    I have a Cowboys helmet pin on my nameplate at work. It has been there for over 18 years except for one day, the day after Jones fired Landry. I knew it was time for a change but it was still a sad time.
  6. RiggoForever

    RiggoForever Benched

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    Didn't Jerry Jones eventually apologize for the way it happened and Landry agreed to come back and be inducted in the Ring of Honor?
  7. CowboyChris

    CowboyChris Well-Known Member

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    i was around during the Landry years, and he is the best coach we have ever had, i think most fans knew it was time for a change, but what angers most everyone is how it was handled. including myself, i more angered how jerry handled the jimmy situation, no way i wouldve let him leave, and furthermore if you really want to get my blood boiling Jerry hired Switzer, Gailey and Campo after Jimmy that was worse than the firing of Landry. just my 2 cents
  8. Yeagermeister

    Yeagermeister Active Member

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    I was much more upset over Switzer than Landry.
  9. Eddie

    Eddie Well-Known Member

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    I've been a Cowboy fan since 5th grade ... 1978. I never had an opportunity to see Tom Landry win a Super Bowl. I saw the lose to Pittsburgh in SB 13 as well as the three straight NFC-CG game losses. Those all broke my heart.

    Things started falling apart after 1985, and even though we went 10-6 in 86, it wasn't real.

    But honestly, the 3-13 team of 1988 wasn't really as bad as the record indicated. We were a good QB away from being 8-8 ... many close games lost due to poor QB play by Steve Pelluer.

    I was in college when Landry was fired. A friend and I were discussing how Tom was the only thing we had in Dallas. But deep down, we knew it was time for a change. Contrary to popular belief, the game had NOT passed Ton Landry by. Poor drafting by managment did him in ... just like the lousy drafting of JJ over the past decade, Tom Landry took the brunt of it.

    I'm not sure Tom would have been able to bring the team back from the depths, but much of the foundation for the future Super Bowl teams were already on board ... Tuinei, Newton, Irvin, Jeffcoat, et al. Troy Aikman would have been the logical choice for 1989.

    I have the fondest memories of Tom Landry, but I also endured some of the hardest moments of my teenage life in those years.
  10. hipfake08

    hipfake08 Well-Known Member

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    I do not know if the scouting department stank it up...
    But all the other NFL teams caught up to the Cowboys in that regard.
    The Cowboys also started reaching for players in the draft and had some injury problems with number 1's - Billy Cannon. That really set them back

    And picking at the bottom of the draft every year did not help.
  11. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    When I think of Landry, a lot of things go into my mind. Even though he's probably not the greatest person to listen to since he often took his liberties in his writing, I always thought Peter Gent gave a solid description of Landry. Landry was extremely odd in the sense that a lot of players genuinely would dislike him, but they were extremely fearful of letting him down and wanted to prove him wrong. But even more odd was that after these players would retire or leave the team, they grew an even more intense amount of respect for Landry...especially when he passed away.

    I usually hate it when somebody calls a current coach a "genius." Sorry, but the real football geniuses are either dead or retired. Landry was truly a "genius." Every D-Coordinator from high school to the NFL is borrowing a philosophy that Landry created....pre-snap reads on defense. While he didn't invent the shotgun, he was the first guy to really use it as a passing formation. His use of Bob Hayes was innovative in it's own right as back then coaches always put the fastest guy on the team at tailback. By putting Hayes at receiver, he opened the doors for guys like Steve Smith and Santana Moss to have their proper place in this sport.

    I was only 12 at the end of the Landry era, but I had a solid knowledge of Landry and what he brought to the game at that time. However, at that point Landry just wasn't as sharp as he used to be and Jones made the right move by getting rid of him.

    What was bitterly ironic was the way Landry was let go by Jones. For years Landry used to release players in the same fashion he was dismissed from the team. Still, two wrongs didn't make a right and while many players would say that they didn't like Landry for the way he handled their releases, they later realized that there was nothing Landry could do about it since it was a front office decision.

    I've never been a huge Jimmy Johnson fan. But, he was a helluva drafter and I think he scared the daylights out of every player because you didn't know what he was going to do if you let him down. My favorite Jimmy story was when somebody stole Super Bowl tickets out of Chad Hennings locker and Jimmy gathered everybody around and said that if the person who stole the tickets returned them the next day, there would be no problems. But if it didn't happen, Jimmy proclaimed that not only would that player be cut, but he'd make sure to do everything in his power to blackball him from the league.

    That was Jimmy in a nutshell. Not a real astute X's and O's guy, but he knew talent when he saw it and because players knew he was capable of ruining their lives, they didn't dare mess with him.

    Still, it was probably a dose of bitter karma when Jimmy stated that his dream job was to coach the Dolphins when Shula retired. Jerry took a ton of flack by hiring Johnson who many thought was a joke of a coach at Miami. When the Cowboys went 1-15 their first year under Jimmy, the laughs became even more audible. I've still never really forgiven Jimmy for saying that and have always stuck up for Jerry's feelings of betrayal.

    Parcells OTOH, is more of my type of coach. Perhaps it's the fact that I'm originally a NY'er and I like his style of coaching, but he's definitely one of the best coaches ever.

    In many regards I think he's a mix of Jimmy and Landry.

  12. burmafrd

    burmafrd Benched

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    I would NEVER take anything Pete Gent said about Landry as accurate. He HATED Landry because Landry told him that he doubted that Gent would ever amount to anything as a player. Hard BUT true. Landry had a problem with being able to connect with people he was not VERY close to. Bob Lilly, Staubach in his later years, and a few others knew Landry and saw behind the facade. Most of his players never saw that part of him. Years later, most of them realized that that was just the way he was and it was nothing personal and he DID care about them. Meredith was one that really had it bad with Landry as a player, but in later years would also say that he got it and realized that that was just Tom.
  13. Yakuza Rich

    Yakuza Rich Well-Known Member

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    Gent has later said that he has a ton of respect for Landry, especially for his coaching prowess. Pat Toomey has stated very similar things when it came to Landry. While I don't think Gent is ever completely accurate, from listening and reading stuff from former Landry players, he seems to have a pretty good idea on Landry.

  14. Alexander

    Alexander What's it going to be then, eh?

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    That he did, but it was time.

    I don't know if he would have stepped aside so Jones could bring in Johnson. In a way, it is a no-win for Jerry Jones. But once Bright sold the team, it made logical sense that Landry go. He clearly was not as sharp as he was in the years prior. We had lost our edge, that was completely clear.
  15. Alexander

    Alexander What's it going to be then, eh?

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    I have never heard a single player from that era claim that Coach Landry wasn't an elite head coach and innovator. Even Duane Thomas couldn't argue that. He just connected with some players better than others, like any coach.
  16. parchy

    parchy Active Member

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    Everybody blames Jerry Jones for "forcing" Landry out the door, which is funny. Given, Jerry had his guy (Jimmy), but he made it known faaar before he was hired that he and JJ were a package deal. Bum Bright is the one that ultimately "forced" Tom out the door. He haaated Landry and wanted an owner that would clean house, and knowing Jerry to be who he was, his choice for successor was a no-brainer. Bright would have forced Landry out the door even earlier if Schramm hadn't gone behind his back and signed Landry to a guaranteed 3-year deal instead of three one year deals like he told him to.

    For the most part, Jerry was just caught in the crossfire.
  17. dboyz

    dboyz Active Member

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    Great thread.

    I have the utmost for Landry the person and also the incredible coach that he was. I think he could definitely still coach at the time he was fired, it was just lack of talent.

    Landry was distant and didn't connect with players. He stated that he didn't want to get too close to players, because it would cause him to not make decisions rationally. That was his style and I think you have to respect that. I'm sure Tom was a very different person around his friends and family than he was as football coach. He was trying to do his job in the best job in the way he knew how. Parcells is totally opposite. He gets close to his players and gets to know them, but still tries not to let it affect his decisions. Two styles and two totally different personalities. Both work.

    As far as the firing of Landry, I was disappointed when it happened and really wanted Landry to rebuild the franchise, because I thought he could still do it, especially with Aikman coming in. Jones botched the firing, but there was nothing intentional about it. He didn't intend for it to get leaked out, but it did. Bum Bright could have handled the firing, becuase I think he wanted Landry gone, but didn't have the guts to do it.

    Landry held a bit of a grudge with the way it was handled, but as much as I respected Landry, I think Tom (as most of us would do) was just sensitive about what had happened because he held the job for 29 years and thought he should go out on his own terms. I think however he would have been fired, he would not have been happy.
  18. Angus

    Angus Active Member

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    Parchy, that is news to me and it puts a different slant on the Jerry Jones action. Still, Jerry did it in an awkward way that still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I must give him credit, though, for getting that hat in the Ring of Honor.
  19. Alexander

    Alexander What's it going to be then, eh?

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    Did you watch the games back then or old enough to remember? He was really losing it at the end. I had the utmost respect for what he did for the franchise, but it was clear, he just didn't have it anymore. It wasn't his fault, it is just that we were so ahead of the curve for so long, the rest of the league caught up. The lack of talent issue was glaring, but what hurt more was that we couldn't use our bad talent to harvest more (we swindled more teams in trade than I can count) and we squandered most of the choices we made.

    One fallacy about that era (like the Johnson one too) is that we just drafted so well and hit on the talent. That's completely false. Go back and look at how many first, second and third round choices we simply blew. We aren't talking average players who couldn't crack the roster on a great team, we are talking players who didn't play anywhere in the league once we gave up.

    We simply stockpiled choices like Coach Johnson did and hit on a reasonable percent and played the averages. Where we really cleaned up was scouting well outside of the draft. We took players that went undrafted and made them All Pros. Take Drew Pearson and Cliff Harris for example. Once other teams smartened up, they began to do the same things that we did for years without competition.

    We also gave up early on talent that did well elsewhere: LB Mike Walter & Steve DeBerg (49ers) and TE Todd Christensen (Raiders) are two classic examples. They were ours once, but we cut them quickly.
  20. dboyz

    dboyz Active Member

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    Yeah I started watching the late 70's early 80's so I remember that era well. And let me say that I can't argue that firing Landry didn't turn out well for the franchise. 3 Super Bowls later and no one can argue that. However, I do believe that Landry could still coach.

    They drafted terribly in the 80's. You talk about the Johnson not hitting on every pick, but the draft is a crapshoot and Johnson stockpiled picks and hit on enough. Johnson also was fortunate enough to have a franchise quarterback fall in his lap.

    But nearly every 1st round pick in the 80's was a bust. Kevin Brooks and Billy Cannon, and Danny Noonan and on and on. Injuries were also a big problem. Mike Sherrard kept getting hurt. 87 started out ok, and then Danny White got hurt. Two draft picks that turned out pretty well that Landry didn't get the chance to see much because of injuries: Irvin and Norton.

    If you look at that 88 team, there was hardly any good young talent on it. None. Ray Alexander (if I remember right) was the leading receiver. We had one guy: Herschel Walker (and Jimmy did the right thing with him). The solid veterans like Too Tall and Randy White had aged and were shells of their former selves.

    Anyway, its a question we'll never know the answer to. I think that the "game has passed him buy" argument gets thrown out there pretty quickly when the talent dries up. People had been been saying that about Paterno at Penn St., and lo and behold he gets some talent and they have a good year.

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