IRVING, Texas (AP)—Troy Aikman thinks the Cowboys made the right move by getting rid of Terrell Owens. Now he’s curious to see whether they also were right about making Roy Williams the new top target for Tony Romo.
Dallas gave its first-, third- and sixth-round picks in the upcoming draft to Detroit to get Williams midway through last season. He hardly looked a guy who led the NFC in yards receiving two years earlier, producing fewer than 200 yards and a single touchdown in 10 games, yet without Owens he becomes the No. 1 receiver.
“If Roy Williams doesn’t turn out to be the player that they thought he would be when they made the trade, I think this would be one of the biggest busts in the history of the league,” Aikman said.
To Aikman, Williams’ performance will answer questions about the receiver— and about the Cowboys’ front office, which also gave the former Texas Longhorns star a contract extension in addition to giving all the picks to the Lions.
“I don’t think you can give up what the Cowboys gave up for somebody and not make that a sure bet,” Aikman said. “This isn’t like drafting a No. 1 receiver out of the college draft and then saying, ‘Well, we think he’s got all the skills to be a great player for us.’ … I just think that when you have the chance to evaluate a player to the degree that the Cowboys were able to, and then to give up what you gave up, if he’s not a No. 1 receiver and not a highly productive player for this team, that’s a huge flaw within their scouting department.”
As for Dallas’ decision to drop Owens, Aikman was all for it.
“I know others have said they don’t believe you can get better by subtraction, but I do,” he said. “It’s hard to win in this league. It’s hard to get the ball to everybody every week. When there’s pressure on an organization to make a player happy, that is not how you win football games. … When you start trying to make decisions to feed one player or two players, that becomes a problem.”
Aikman pointed out that Michael Irvin always wanted the ball, just like Owens, but Irvin never let his role in the offense become a week-in, week-out subject for reporters. Subtracting that drama is what Aikman believes will help the Cowboys.
“There’s frustrations within every locker room, but that’s where it should stay,” Aikman said. “I’ve always believed if you win, it’s good enough. My career was based on that. So I don’t really have a lot of great things to say about anybody who comes out and vocalizes their displeasure because they’re not getting more passes or more throws or more carries. To me, that’s not what this game is about.”
Aikman believes that a successful teams needs talented players and locker-room chemistry. He thinks the Cowboys have had the talent for the last few years, but the chemistry part “is what has been lacking” as their skid of years without a playoff win has stretched to 12.
“It hasn’t looked like a team that enjoys playing together,” Aikman said. “Will that change with a few changes within the roster? Time will tell. But I don’t know that we should necessarily point at Tony and say, ‘OK, now he’s going to have to do something extraordinary.’ That whole team is going to have to play better than they have late in the seasons.”
Aikman spoke following a news conference announcing Wingstop as the official chicken wing provider for the Cowboys and their new stadium. He’s been a customer of the location near team headquarters since his playing days, and is in his sixth year as their national spokesman.
Because he won three Super Bowls and played his entire Hall of Fame career with the Cowboys, plus still lives in the area, Aikman closely follows them. As an analyst for Fox, he also keeps up with everything that happens in the league.
Yet he’s still baffled by the falling out between Jay Cutler and new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, a rift that resulted in the young Pro Bowl quarterback being traded to Chicago.
“I just don’t get how it got to that point in such a short period of time,” Aikman said. “It seems to me that McDaniels had that in mind before he even got that job. That’s what was bizarre to me.”
Aikman wonders whether Broncos owner Pat Bowlen would’ve hired McDaniels had he known the coach wasn’t committed to building around Cutler.
“Maybe (Bowlen) did know it, I don’t know. But it was pretty obvious, based on the timing, that Josh McDaniels knew that he wasn’t real high on Cutler, if he’s trying to make a trade for Matt Cassel within his first few weeks on the job,” Aikman said. “Could Jay have handled it a little better? Yeah, I think maybe he could have. But I certainly don’t begrudge him for being as upset as he was.”