Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said before the season that this would not be an Armageddon year for coach Jason Garrett.
He was not coaching for his job in 2013.
Ten games into what has been a disappointing season so far for the Cowboys, Jones not only reiterated that Garrett is not on the hot seat but also that he will return as coach in 2014, no matter how the team finishes this season.
The Cowboys (5-5) are one-half game behind the Philadelphia Eagles for first in the NFC East but have lost two of their past three games and face a crucial test at the New York Giants (4-6) on Sunday.
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“I’m disappointed we don’t have a better record,” Jones said on Thursday. “But he has got us in position to win the division and we’ve got a team here that I firmly believe has the ability to be one of the better playing teams at the end.
“We are positioned to get in the playoffs. We see logically how to get in. We have that for all practical purposes in our control. It’s a pretty good spot to be in after 10 games. A lot of this story is to be played out. It does not have a bearing on whether or not he will be our coach next year.”
So will Garrett be back next year?
“Yes,” Jones replied.
As a longtime player and son of a former coach and a scout, Garrett understands the business. No matter what Jones says, he knows that if the Cowboys don’t get in the playoffs, anything could happen. His approach of always doing your best every day has been the same since he took over the Cowboys, and it won’t change with Jones’ vote of confidence.
“I think it’s the nature of the league,” Garrett said. “You have to focus on what you’re doing each and every day to play your best football on Sunday. That’s what the focus is.”
The players greeted news of Garrett’s newfound job security with excitement.
Said quarterback Tony Romo, “It’s good. I think he is a fantastic coach. We are lucky to have him. He is doing a great job here right now. We’re continuing to try and win games, and Jason’s done a great job putting us in position to have that opportunity. Anytime that happens, it’s always just a positive.”
Receiver Dez Bryant agreed with Romo.
“Coach Garrett is the guy,” Bryant said. “This stuff is a process. Coach Garrett does a great job. I pay attention to him. I listen to him. I love him. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around.”
Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, who is having a breakout season, says Garrett’s return goes beyond the field.
“I got a lot of respect for him just getting to know him around here, him being more involved in coming into the defensive meetings and the offensive meetings, the special teams meetings, just to know him personally and know that he cares about you off the field as well as on the field,” Hatcher said.
“It’s not like some coaches who absolutely don’t care about you. It’s all business with them. But you know at the end of the day that he cares about you individually and he understands the game.
“I’m glad the Cowboys will have him back. He deserves it.”
Garrett, who Jones said in training camp has multiple years left on his contract, is 26-24 since taking over as Cowboys coach midway through the 2010 season. He has guided the Cowboys to 8-8 finishes in each of the past two full seasons as head coach.
The Cowboys have missed the playoffs each of the past three years. A fourth consecutive season out of the playoffs would be devastating to the Cowboys and their fan base, especially considering the down year for the NFC East.
“Don’t count us out quick, because we’re still here,” Bryant said. “We believe we’ve got a shot at doing something good this year.”
Jones has already guaranteed Garrett’s return, no matter the outcome.