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OXNARD, Calif. -- You can believe Jerry Jones if you want when he says Jason Garrett doesn't have to make the playoffs to keep his job with the Dallas Cowboys.
Or you can look at the facts, and operate in the realm of reality.
Only the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs have hired more head coaches than the Cowboys owner and general manager since 1997.
Oakland has had nine and Kansas City seven. The Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions have each had six.
|Jerry Jones made it clear Jason Garrett is his coach of the future, even is this season goes south. Garrett's insurance may be to make the playoffs.|
That's because the best organizations have continuity. They allow a coach to have a poor season -- maybe two -- if they believe he's the right man for the job.
They take a pragmatic approach to the head coach's success, understanding wins and losses don't always tell the tale.
Jerry, as we know, is considerably more impulsive.
He had NFL success so early with three Super Bowls in his first seven seasons, and he's been chasing that euphoric feeling ever sense. Combine that with his lack of respect for the position of head coach, and it's really pretty easy to see why Garrett needs to get to the playoffs or win at least 10 games to guarantee he's coaching the Cowboys next season.
"I look to the future with Jason, not just through his contract that we're sitting here with right now," Jerry said Saturday afternoon at the Cowboys news conference to open training camp.
"I think he has a couple of years left on his contract, but that's not a thought. It is not what is implied when you say, 'This is an Armageddon year for him.' It's not that with me."
Just remember sport is fluid.
What's true today might not be true tomorrow. Or next week. Or next year.Jerry had no intent to fire Chan Gailey after he went 18-14 in two seasons, but Troy Aikman couldn't stand the coach's passing game. So Dave Campo became the head coach and the offense became Aikman's again.
Jerry didn't want to fire Wade Phillips, and he certainly didn't want to do it during the season. But the team quit on Phillips, leaving Jerry with no choice but to make his first in-season change.
Understand, Jerry doesn't want to fire Garrett. He respects his intelligence and leadership ability. And he believes Garrett's relationship with Tony Romo helps the quarterback maximize his ability.
Still, Garrett better not miss the playoffs for a third consecutive year as head coach.
Jerry and Garrett can talk about making a mutual decision to make Bill Callahan the playcaller all they want. The reality is Garrett has been stripped of that responsibility, and Romo has been given unprecedented authority in his time as a starter to shape the game plan.
Romo, the story goes, asked for the additional responsibility while negotiating a six-year, $108 million extension.
Right now, he has more authority than Garrett.
"He's been directly involved in the coaching of Romo for six years," Jerry said of Garrett. "When he got here, Romo had never had the same guy two years in a row.
"We've got to take advantage of that. His safety-net presence for what we're doing -- not only as a team, but on offense -- is a big part of the plan. It gives us a real advantage."
If this season doesn't meet Jones' expectations, there's only one move left: fire the coach.
Think about it. If you have a new defensive scheme and coordinator, a new playcaller and a quarterback with a long-term deal, what other major move remains?
Garrett has been in and around the NFL virtually his entire life. He understands few coaches, especially those in their first job, get an opportunity to go 0-for-the playoffs in their first three seasons.
Now Garrett will tell you he focuses only on improving as a coach each meeting, each practice and each day, which is fine.
But Jerry wants to win. He needs to win.
And with a roster that does have numerous high-caliber players among the starters, Garrett must expect to get fired if the Cowboys miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.
For now, Garrett has Jerry's support.
"If you're in close here you see how Jason is responding to obviously unsatisfactory times," Jerry said. "And I can tell you first-hand that's impressive, so I like that looking ahead at the future. It is very good."
As long as Garrett and the Cowboys win.
Otherwise, expect Jerry to hire his seventh coach in the past 17 seasons.