- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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With the possibility of Sean Payton becoming a free-agent coach after his suspension ends, there has been much speculation between the New Orleans coach and Cowboys.
Jones, however, believes Garrett is putting the right culture in place for long-term success.
"I think we're going in the right direction," Jones said. "I think there's accountability. I think our players play hard. I think we not only have good football players, I think we have good people. I think one thing about our team you can look at it and they're playing hard."
This speaks once again to the disconnect between the opinion Cowboys fans seem to have about the current state and direction of the franchise and the opinion that Cowboys ownership has about it. Stephen and Jerry Jones consider Garrett to be in the process (and the center) of a rebuilding project. They have seen major improvements this year in areas that were their biggest 2011 weaknesses, specifically the coverage of wide receivers and the ability to actually tackle offensive players on the opposing teams. They likely believe that devoting next offseason's resources to the lingering weak spots, such as the offensive line, will result in further improvement. And they like the way their team plays, even if they wish it would score enough points to win more often than it does.
These are all reasonable perceptions, of course. The complaint I always hear from fans is that the Cowboys have been "rebuilding" since the mid-1990s and nothing ever comes of it. But while Jerry Jones has a reputation for irrationality, Stephen has more say than ever in the day-to-day operations of the team and Jerry does appear determined to exercise patience where in the past he may not have done so. Holding the failures of past coaches, or even some of the poor roster decisions Jerry himself has made, against Garrett would be unfair. And until last week, he did have a winning record as a head coach.
So while I always think we need to take the public pronouncements of coaches, GMs, owners and team officials with multiple grains of salt, I think there's evidence to support the idea that the Joneses mean it when they express support for Garrett. And while certainly things could change if the remaining eight games go poorly, the schedule eases out considerably from here on, and it's more than possible that Garrett finishes the season strong and gives them no reason to change their minds about him.