Dallas Cowboys COO Stephen Jones: NFL competition committee will look to improve fumbles for touchbacks ruling

Dallas Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones joined our friends in the “G-Bag Nation” on Dallas-Fort Worth 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM] Monday to talk about the team’s 20-17 win over the Oakland Raiders Sunday. Here is the entire transcript:


HOW ARE YOU DOING? — “Doing fine. Certainly don’t want to apologize for any win. We’ll take it. We pulled out a win, which is hard to do in this league. We’re still alive. We’re obviously going to get better this week and get [Ezekiel Elliott] back and hopefully finish our run here and then have a few things go right for us.”
I DON’T KNOW THE LAST NIGHT I SAW A FOURTH QUARTER LIKE THAT (Gavin) — “Well, it was. I think that may be an all-timer pulling out a piece of paper to see if it fit between the ball and the chain. It’s certainly unique and some interesting calls there that come into play. Several of them that we talk about on the competition committee obviously worked to our benefit yesterday. The toughest call in our league is the fumble out of the back of the end zone for a touchback, and certainly, as I said, it benefited us yesterday. Then we ran through the catches, no-catches yesterday. We had it all.”
DO YOU THINK THAT TOUCHBACK RULE COULD CHANGE, AND WHERE ARE WITH TECHNOLOGY HELPING SPOT BALLS? — “We talked about chips involved and we don’t have that perfected, and you start to wonder if you’re taking technology too far. But obviously when you have these quarterback sneaks and you have these piles in there, it’s tough to use replay when you don’t know where the knee hit and where the ball ended up. Those things are difficult. So, we’ll continue to always to look for ways to do it better. We’re talking about two areas down there, not that we ever felt like we had a touchdown, but certainly a lot of people in and around the pile, we’re trying to get in for a touchdown. And then of course the first down mark was epic in terms of that, but we will always look for ways to do that better in terms of spotting the ball, and the touchback rule is one that I’m sure it will come up. And we’ll go through it again and see if there is a better way to do it, a better outcome. But at this point, we hadn’t been able to do that. What’s a better answer to it? But I know we will be pushed to look at it again, as we should because we always want to be better and do what’s in the best interest of the game and the fans. So, it will make for a good off-season for sure. And the catch, no-catch came up not only in our game, but the Pittsburgh-New England game. I was watching that game and certainly knew where it was going if they stayed consistent with Dez [Bryant], but those are tough ones.”
DOES THE FUMBLE FOR A TOUCHBACK CHANGE YOUR MIND ON WANTING TO CHANGE THE RULE? — “Not really. Those things kind of come full circle. I think what — it really just seems so onerous for the team that is trying to make a play fumbles right there anyway. You just wonder if the ball should be spotted where he actually fumbled the ball is the answer. When it goes out of bounds, the other team doesn’t recover it, certainly in that particular case, then in the field of play the ball would have been spotted another half-yard up the field to the advantage of the team fumbling the ball. So, it’s a tough situation there. And then of course you know where we come down on the catch, no-catch. We want there to be a better way to do it when the guy possesses it and then reaches as they did, as the Pittsburgh tight end did the way Dez did. I come down that that is a football move. I think that it should be ruled a touchdown. Obviously I’m in the minority and certainly respect the other members and will continue, I’m sure, to look at it ad nauseam, the Pittsburgh play. I know I’m sure we’ll look at it a hundred times before it’s through.”
DID YOU WANT TO GO FOR IT ON FOURTH DOWN FROM THE 1 RATHER THAN KICK A 19-YARD FIELD GOAL? — “Well, that’s a tough one, tough one to be in the head coach’s shoes. Certainly it does cross your mind. I know it crossed Jason [Garrett’s] mind. I hadn’t seen his comment, but I’m sure he thought about it at great length as long as you can in that short area of time. But certainly we respect the call that Jason makes and it turned out it worked out good for us. Our defense did a heck of a job and had a chance there to hold them on that one series. [Anthony Brown] certainly had a great chance at a pick and then we certainly covered them up pretty good. Jourdan Lewis, being a rookie, couldn’t locate the receiver and the ball and unfortunately interfered with him. It cost us to be in that situation right there, but it did work out for us.”
HOW DID ALL OF THE CHRIS JONES FAKE PUNT GO DOWN FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE? — “I played on special teams and had the same type of situations and it was on. Most of the time you didn’t run the fake punt, but when they gave you the right look and the punter called the call, then a fake punt was one. I think it’s a great situation. Obviously have a lot of confidence in Chris to, one, have the ball and whether it should be used or not, and then we were so fortunate that Chris is a really, really good athlete in terms of being able to make the play like that. It was great. He felt good about it and it was great that he turned it on and made a great play as well along with his teammates on the punt team. Obviously a huge play for us, a big momentum changer for us and we were able to go down and score a touchdown. In terms of the game it helped us win the football game.”
IS IT A CREDIT TO CHRIS JONES THAT HE HAD YOUR FASTEST SPEED AGAINST THE RAIDERS ACCORDING TO NEXT GEN STATS? — “Well, both him and Dan [Bailey], I think it’s a credit to both of them. They’re really some of our best athletes on the team when it comes to testing in the off-season. They run well. I don’t know if you’ve seen them throw the ball, but they were both quarterbacks at least in high school. They’re just really good athletes that train and two of our hardest workers on the team and we’re fortunate to have them.”
CAN YOU GIVE US AN UPDATE ON ANTHONY HITCHENS AND TYRON SMITH? — “Both of them have been looked at and I think both of them are going to be day to day, week to week. And probably Hitch a little better chance to make it this week than Tyron, although Tyron has a chance. We’ll just have to monitor him, but certainly not an ACL, which is a relief. We’ll kind of watch them as the week goes here and know that I think Hitch has a pretty good chance of doing it, and Tyron has a chance. So, we’ll see.”
HAVE YOU SEEN EZEKIEL ELLIOTT YET? — “I haven’t seen him yet, no. But he will be here today and ready to roll and great to have him back. But from my understanding, if you’ve seen the same things I’ve seen, his agent has said that he’s in better shape than when he left. He dedicated to keeping himself in top notch shape. Hopefully he can come in here and really help us out. Obviously we’re trying to win out and give ourselves a chance to be in the playoffs. Each game for us is a playoff game and we also know we need some help. Those things happen in our league. We still think we have a great opportunity here in front of us and we have to do our part.”
WHERE ARE YOUR YOUNG SECONDARY PLAYERS IN COMPARISON TO WHERE YOU HOPED THEY WOULD BE AT THE START OF THE YEAR? — “I would think they are pretty close to being on target. You’re going to have some rookie mistakes, but at the same time I think you’re going to make some plays. Obviously Chidobe [Awuzie] has, I would say that he was behind, if you will, because of all the time that he missed. But he has improved in the three or four games that he started work back into and started getting play time. Now, he’s starting and seeing so many good things from him. Not only is he covering well and making some plays on the ball, he’s a physical tackler and really coming on. Jourdan, of course, has been out there doing good things all year. Tough play last night to get out from anybody when you lose the ball. You got a player, a receiver, slowing down and he’s running through it. It’s just a difficult situation. And then of course, yeah, you throw in Kavon [Frazier] and AB. The future is bright and Byron Jones does a great job of covering tight ends and make some big plays for us last night. It’s a good young group.”
IS EVERYTHING COMING ALONG ALL RIGHT FOR SEAN LEE? — “Yes, he feels really good and felt it was in his best interest to miss practice, but at the same time felt that he was good to be able to play. And obviously this time of year with the older guys you manage a little bit, and even with some of the young ones. We’ve been managing La’el [Collins] and Tyron as well. This time of year it’s a long, long journey and you have to manage some of these guys so that they are ready to play the game.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE ESTABLISHED A DEFENSIVE IDENTITY WITH HOW MANY TEAMS YOU’VE KEPT UNDER 20? — “This is just a good, young group, and I think they keep getting better. You just look all the way around the defensive front. Obviously Sean is not a young guy, but you throw in Hitch in there with Jaylon [Smith] and Damien Wilson and the defensive secondary speaks for itself. We just feel really good about this defense. Boy, I think the arrow is up. Another off-season and add a draft pick to that front seven and I just feel really optimistic about where this defense is headed. Of course, you throw Zeke back in the mix and get everybody healthy on the offensive side of the ball. There is a lot to be optimistic about this football team. I know that we hadn’t gone about it the way we thought we would in terms of being a little bit more dominant as a football team, but we managed to get ourselves back in the hunt here at 8-6. Certainly feel like we can get some more momentum with Zeke back in the lineup if we can finish strong and have some things go right for us. You never know what’s going to happen, as Bill Parcells said, when you get back in the tournament.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY TAMPA BAY GEAR TO WEAR TONIGHT? — “I’m at a minimum going to be wearing Tampa colors, so we’re certainly going to be rooting for those guys. They play down the stretch a lot of teams that we need to have some misfortune, So, certainly a Buccaneer fan down the stretch here.”
AND THEN CHRISTMAS FEATURES HIGHLAND PARK GOING FOR A REPEAT — “Yeah, it’s been one heck of a run for him. Certainly just a special, special time for him. It’s wonderful. At the same time, it’s a little bittersweet to know that he’s playing his last high school game, but he certainly put himself in a position. He’s going to be able to continue his football career somewhere, but we want to just focus in time doing something that no one has done in Highland Park in terms of his teammates and Coach [Randy] Allen which is win back to back championships. But we are going to play a really, really talented Manvel team and we’re going to have our hands full. It will be a special weekend for us, but certainly I’m happy for him, happy for Coach Allen, and happy for his teammates; a really, really solid football team that loves each other and plays hard for each other.”

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