OXNARD, Calif. –The question has been asked before. The answer still hasn't changed.
Despite three straight 8-8 seasons and despite not giving Jason Garrett a new contract, owner Jerry Jones said Garrett's fourth season as head coach is not a "make or break" year in terms of record.
Jones' comments occurred about 12 inches away from Garrett as the two sat up together on the stage for the opening press conference of training camp here in Oxnard.
It took about 10 minutes of the press conference before Jones was asked about the proverbial hot seat for Garrett, who has yet to get his team into the playoffs.
"I'll be serious with you … no … in terms of the record of this team, this is not a make or break situation for Jason and members of this staff," Jones said. "We've got a job to do. We obviously want to zero in on what we're doing this afternoon and the next day and the next day."
When pressed again why the final record won't be a factor, Jones explained.
"Well it's just not necessarily a factor. It's just not. The things that make the record will be under consideration, but not the record. Not the record, the numbers on the record," Jones said. "That's been the case, did the record of 8-8, 8-8, was that a factor? No. Principally it were other things that I'm proud of and that I think creates quite an asset for us. In my mind, he is more of an asset after this last 8-8 season than he was before the first 8-8 season we had three years ago."
The Cowboys have been in the same situation for three straight years – a chance to win the NFC East in the final game of the season only to lose to a division rival, putting them on the outside of the playoffs. [embedded_ad]
While Garrett has yet to have a winning record as a head coach – excluding his 5-3 mark as an interim coach in 2010 – he has the vote of confidence from his owner.
"There's nobody that has a better feel for me than Jason, in terms of a relationship," Jones said. "We both know where are expectations are, when it's looking good or when it's looking dire. I don't expect it to be the latter."
Garrett sounded unfazed when asked about Jones' comments after the press conference.
"I really don't think about it at all," Garrett said. "We have so much to focus on as coaches to try to build this football team the way we want to build it. That's where our focus is. That's mean my focus since Day 1. It was my focus as a player – try to be the best player I can be each and every day. I certainly try to do that as a head coach of this team. I try to provide the leadership and guidance that everybody needs. That's where my attention is, that's where my focus is and that's where it always has been."
Since Garrett took over Wade Phillips in the middle of the 2010 season, the Cowboys have a record of 29-27, although this team is an even 24-24 since he was named head coach before the 2011 campaign.