ARLINGTON, Texas – Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones stood firm by his statement in the wreckage of another disappointing season.
Jones endorsed Jason Garrett to return as his head coach way back on Nov. 21, when the Cowboys were 5-5. Moments after his team had fallen short of an NFC East title for a third straight year, Jones reiterated that position.
“I have spoken at a little bit of a more appropriate time here three or four weeks ago, which I said at the time that I was with Jason, and I thought that his future and what he was going to be doing with us was good,” Jones said. “But this isn’t the time, despite how it feels or looks, to speak to anything about our coaches.”
Jones’ reluctance to speak on the issue could be seen as non-committal, but he was emphatic when asked a second time, in what turned into a 30-minute meeting with the media.
“I’ve said that a month ago, and so I stand by what I said a month ago,” he said.
It was bound to be a hot topic in the immediate aftermath of the Cowboys’ 24-22 loss to Philadelphia. Sunday marked the third-straight year during Garrett’s tenure the Cowboys have finished 8-8, and the third-straight year they have lost the division on the final night of the season.
For his part, Garrett said he was too focused on the season finale against the Eagles to give much thought to his job status – whatever it may be.
“I’m just focused on doing my job. We put a lot of time, effort, energy, and our guts into this ballgame and it is a disappointing loss for us, so that’s where all our focus and energy was,” he said.
For the second straight season, a late-game interception by the Cowboys dashed killed that focus and energy. Jones called the result extremely disappointing and hard to swallow – though he did credit Garrett and the team for resiliency during an up-and-down season.
“It’s unbelievable, unthinkable really for me to be sitting here three years in a row and this game putting us at .500 and this game eliminating us from getting to the playoffs,” Jones said. “I had thought that some of the changes we made this year would put us in better overall shape -- our defense.”
He added: “I thought this team really took the challenges that were served up to it. Every team has them even the team we were playing tonight. But I thought we handled our challenges really well, and I give Jason Garrett a lot of credit for that about how we handled our challenges throughout the year and obviously, our injury situation.”
If Garrett’s job status is secure, it remains to be seen if any other changes will be made this offseason. Jones declined to speculate on the future of any other coaches.
Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, whose defense has been heavily criticized this season, said he isn’t focused on the future, though he’d like to return.
“I’m not thinking about that right now – I’m more concerned about not winning this football game,” he said. “I didn’t plan on retiring, so I’d like to keep on coaching – I really would.”