Jerry Jones Showing Signs of Weakness by Keeping Jason Garrett off the Hot Seat

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJuly 24, 2014

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Jerry Jones loves the sound of his voice. And short of recording his own soliloquies and playing them back to himself, the best method he can utilize in order to accomplish that is to make meaningless declarations in the media. 

The latest such incident took place as the Cowboys were kicking off training camp in Southern California this week, with Jones stating in a press conference, per Gregg Rosenthal of, that "this is not a make-or-break situation" for head coach Jason Garrett, whose contract is set to expire after the season. 

Now, in Jones' defense, he was answering a question regarding Garrett's job security while sitting about 20 inches to the man's left. And you can't necessarily blame Jones for trying to keep everyone upbeat as a new season officially gets underway. 

However, his words are as hollow as a jack-o'-lantern, and everyone knows it. 

It's easy to make statements like these in July, because Jones can always defend a reversal of course in December or January by explaining that circumstances had changed. 

"In terms of the record of this team," Jones said, "this is not a make or break situation for Jason."

That was the full sentence. If you don't believe that is deliberately ambiguous, Jones might have an oceanfront property in Fort Worth to sell you. 

The reality is that if this isn't a make-or-break year for Garrett, there's something wrong.

In this league, unless or until you've become a Bill Belichick or a Tom Coughlin, you don't have the right to job security beyond the season at hand.

Garrett has somehow survived three consecutive 8-8 seasons despite possessing a talent-filled roster in the football capital of the world. If he fails again during what is by definition a lame-duck season, you'd have to think there'll be a consensus inside and outside of Dallas that it's time for a change. 

The Cowboys played with quite a lot of heart down the stretch the last two years, battling through injuries to at least earn a Week 17 elimination game. But with a poor 2014 showing, you have to think the locker room will also start to question whether Garrett is the guy. It'll be an obvious time for a split. 

Jones can't be so naive and/or myopic as to not see that. Despite possessing a somewhat inexplicable appreciation for everything Garrett, he has to know that this is his last opportunity. He should realize that the franchise would become a laughingstock if it were to give Garrett a new contract following another failed season. 

Maybe that's part of the game plan. If Jones simply lets Garrett's contract expire, he technically doesn't have to fire him. He can sort of stick to his guns on the whole make-or-break thing while also giving the franchise a chance to regroup with one of its many coordinators taking over. 

The fact that Jones hasn't even signed Garrett to a token one-year extension is a strong indication that's the plan, which is why we have to continue to give the grain-of-salt treatment to anything Jones says about Garrett's future in Dallas. 

But this serves as just another reminder that the Cowboys' problems go beyond Garrett and the coaching staff. 

Jones is by far the league's most vocal owner, and his WWE-style strategy for promoting this team results in a lot of flashy headlines and sensational quotes. 

But that isn't healthy. We have proof of that now because it's been nearly two decades since America's richest and most popular football team has experienced even moderate success with Jones at the helm. 

Dallas Cowboys since 1997
Winning %TO marginPlayoff wins
Under Garrett (2010-present).518 (29-27)+80
Overall.500 (136-136)-381
Pro Football Reference

It does seem as though Jones enjoys not being pushed by his head coaches, which makes sense, considering his Texas-sized ego. But that isn't healthy either, because you get the idea the 71-year-old isn't challenging himself. 

His commitment to Garrett is probably doing more harm than good. He appears far too satisfied with a situation that, for him, is comfortable despite its mediocrity. 

Jones either has a thing for Garrett because the coach isn't confrontational and conforms to the Jones-centric attitude at Valley Ranch, or he's just being patient while giving us more lip service. Neither tactic is particularly productive, which is why the circus continues to hijack on-field results in Dallas. 


Brad Gagnon has covered the NFC East for Bleacher Report since 2012.