Saturday, December 27, 2008

Jerry Jones: Cowboys coaches 'in place' for 2009

The Associated Press

IRVING — Wade Phillips will be back as coach of the Dallas Cowboys next season, and Jason Garrett will remain in charge of the offense, regardless of whether the team makes the playoffs, club owner Jerry Jones said Friday.

And he said it vehemently.

"The coaches are in place. I've said that. How can I be any clearer?" Jones said. "Look, I've said that our coaching staff, as far as I'm concerned, is in place. I just want to make the statement rather than answer questions, because your questions imply certain things that I don't want to imply.

"I'm saying that when I look at where we are coaching staff-wise and when I look at where we are personnelwise, I see a team that is in place to compete for several years."

Still, the questions continued because this team that went 13-3 last season and owned the No. 1 seed in the NFC is now 9-6 and trying to grab the last available wild-card into this season's playoffs. The Cowboys will get it with a win Sunday in Philadelphia. If they lose, there's been speculation that Jones would fire Phillips. There's long been speculation that Phillips might be pushed aside, and Garrett promoted from offensive coordinator, next season anyway as Dallas moves into a new $1.1 billion, 100,000-seat stadium.

"And I'd like to go in that new stadium with a Super Bowl win," Jones said.

But what if they don't make the playoffs? Could things change then?

"Look, can y'all not understand statements?" Jones said. "What the (expletive) is going on here? Really. I really don't understand what is going on. The coaching staff is in place. The coaching staff is in place. The building is here. You want to ask the question, what if it blows down?"

When it was mentioned that Jones has made a bold statement before, then changed his mind, the owner shot back, "I don't know when. Point it out."

Jones has been consistent in his staunch support of his coaches. Following a loss to Baltimore last Saturday night, he challenged reporters to see how many first-year coaches win Super Bowls and questioned the logic of spending millions on bringing in someone with a good reputation in the pros or in college.

And when Jones spoke after the Ravens loss, he already feared that the Cowboys were out of the playoffs.

"Absolutely," he said Friday. "I saw the Grim Reaper coming out the door. ... Yes, I thought when we left the stadium late at night, I was pretty down and out."

Phillips has said all week that he's concerned only about the Eagles, not what might happen to his status if Dallas loses.

Still, he's aware of the stakes.

"I told the players I don't know if it's pressure. Pressure is getting to this point," Phillips said Friday, before Jones spoke. "Now we need to let it go and play, play our best. We'll try to coach our best, too."

When Phillips was hired, he touted a winning career record as a head coach, but also acknowledged the downer of never having won a playoff game. He talked then of creating a new legacy for himself.

Last season's playoff disappointment — becoming the first No. 1 seed in the NFC to lose its first playoff game since the current format began in 1990 — isn't exactly the kind of legacy-adder he wanted. A roll this January "obviously would help," Phillips said.

"But this year isn't over," Phillips said. "So we'll see."