Jones realistic about Cowboys' odds

OXNARD, Calif. -- This is not what you wanted to hear from owner and general manager Jerry Jones a day before the Dallas Cowboys have their first training camp practice.

You want the Cowboys to end their wretched four-year streak without making the playoffs. Or you want Jason Garrett fired.

Three consecutive 8-8 seasons have left you emotionally spent -- and you want change.

Jerry doesn't.

"This is not a make-or-break year in terms of the record," Jones said Wednesday afternoon.

"It's not necessarily the record. It's the factors that make the record that are important."


It's time for you to accept that Jason Garrett is going to be the Cowboys' coach for the foreseeable future.

"This is not make-or-break situation for Jason or members of this staff. It really is not about next year," Jones said. "I think we have the fundamentals to compete and compete right now.

"I'm particularly encouraged by the guy sitting right next to me," Jones said of Garrett, who was sitting to Jones' right. "I know where he is and how he has evolved. I'm excited about their approach to how to take these players and coach them up and coach them within what they can do the best as young players and make us a competitive team."

This doesn't sound like the Jerry we've listened to over the years. That guy talked about playoffs and Super Bowls.

This guy is talking about being competitive. Not once did he even utter the words playoffs or postseason.

He talked about how the Cowboys could improve, but it's clear expectations have been tempered -- and that's OK.

It's about time Jerry stopped lying to himself and creating a hype machine that established standards that were nearly impossible for his team to reach.

Look at the roster, especially on defense. Examine the schedule that has the Cowboys playing a plethora of teams expected to make the playoffs this season. Think about all the things that would have to go right for this team to make playoffs.

Do the Cowboys look like a playoff team?


Tony Romo has had two back surgeries in the last year. Their defense -- no matter how hard the club spins it -- is expected to be abject again this year.

Frankly, expectations are so low, this is the first time in forever there's no pressure on the Cowboys to perform. The players should be able to perform free and easy.

Every season, it becomes a little more clear that Jerry wants Garrett to be his Tom Landry.

Remember in the early 1960s when Landry, a first-time head coach, started his career 25-53-4 until notching his first winning season in his seventh year. Fans howled for the owner to fire Landry during the bad seasons, but Clint Murchison Jr. remained committed to him.

When the team finally started winning in 1966, Landry had built a team that could sustain its success.

No one is saying Garrett will have Landry's success. No one is saying the Cowboys are on the verge of putting together a remarkable streak of winning like the New England Patriots have had.

Jerry just believes the best way for the franchise to succeed is with Garrett as its coach.

When Jerry hired a first-time head coach, he knew there would be tough times. He's suffered through them and he remains convinced Garrett has the skill set to be a difference-maker as a coach.

"He's more of an asset after the last 8-8 season than he was after the first 8-8 season," Jones said. "This is his eighth season on the staff. I like the continuity."

Besides, whom else is he going to hire? Look at the guys Jerry has hired since he took over.

Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer were his friends. Chan Gailey was a virtual unknown who got the job when Jerry failed to close the deal with former UCLA coach Terry Donahue.

Dave Campo was a first-time head coach who had been with the franchise since Jerry arrived in 1989.

Bill Parcells is the only big-time coach Jerry has ever hired that he didn't already know. Wade Phillips got the job because he could coach the 3-4 and he had a winning record as a head coach.

Garrett was another familiar face, when Jerry made him the interim coach.

See, Jerry needs Garrett to succeed and he's going to give him every opportunity to do so.

That's why he's not hung up on the record. It's the reason he's not putting public pressure on Garrett to make the playoffs.

"I know first hand we have a relationship," Jones said. "We both know where our expectations are and whether its looking good or looking bad -- and I don't expect the latter."

But even if it does happen, Garrett's not going anywhere. Jerry fired Landry once. He's not doing it again.