Jason Garrett focused on job at hand

Updated: November 6, 2012, 2:41 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Jason Garrett is staying the course.

The Dallas Cowboys coach is telling his team to block out any criticism it's facing as a result of a two-game losing streak and most importantly, Garrett isn't paying attention to the talk about Sean Payton becoming a free agent after the 2012 season.

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Sunday, Payton, the suspended New Orleans Saints coach, had the multiyear contract extension, which he signed in September 2011, voided because NFL commissioner Roger Goodell didn't like certain language it contained.

Payton, a former assistant coach with the Cowboys who has a close relationship with team owner Jerry Jones, was mentioned as a possible replacement should he become free of the contract.

If Payton becomes free and the Cowboys (3-5) fail to make the postseason for a third consecutive season speculation would rise about a coaching change.

"There's a lot of stories that circulate around our game," Garrett said Monday afternoon. "So certainly some people bring those kinds of things to my attention, but again we're focus on what we need to do. We had heck of a challenge (Sunday night) in Atlanta, trying to play an undefeated team so that's where our attention was."

The Cowboys' 19-13 loss to the Falcons dropped Garrett's overall record to 16-16.

But Garrett seems undeterred by the talk of Payton becoming a hot coaching commodity should he get free of his contract. Goodell said before the Cowboys-Falcons game he has nothing to rule on regarding Payton's contract until it's submitted again.

"We're just focused on what we need to do today," Garrett said when asked does he believe he'll be the coach with the Cowboys in 2013. "We need to clean up what happened in the game (Sunday) and build on some of the good and correct the bad and get ready for the Eagles, that's what our focus is. We're focused on being our best day to day and week to week and this week it will be a great challenge going up to Philadelphia."

This season, Garrett coaches a Cowboys team that has struggled to score points and close out games on defense.

The Cowboys have scored fewer than 20 points in five of their eight games this season and, despite the fifth best defense in the NFL, allowing 312.5 yards a game heading into Monday night's game, the Cowboys failed to get the offense back the ball in the fourth quarter of the loss to the Falcons.

In his weekly team meeting on Monday, Garrett told his players to stay focused and not worry about what people are saying about the team. Following his Monday news conference, Garrett continued that trend when he responded to two more questions about Payton's potential availability.

"Trust me, I'm focused on what we need to do and I'm just focused on coaching this team as best I can and getting our team to play as well as we can play," he said.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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