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Stephen Jones: Dallas Cowboys headed in good direction

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys executive Stephen Jones wouldn't entertain the notion that under-fire coach Jason Garrett is coaching for his job over the course of the 2012 season.

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"Ridiculous," Jones said, declining further comment.

What Jones, the chief operating officer, did say is that he believes long-term the Cowboys are "going in a good direction."

Jones praised the fight of the team and the class of the players, and added that they have respect for Garrett's leadership. In the next breath, Jones said he's as disappointed as anyone with the first half of the Cowboys' season.

"Absolutely," Jones said, when asked if the Cowboys are underachieving heading into Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. "We had higher expectations than this. Obviously, you're disappointed with our record. We gotta play better, we gotta finish.

"Bottom line, at the end of the day, you are what you are. We're 3-5, we've got to improve. ... We need a win."

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Criticism of the Cowboys' plight has been spread around this season, from owner Jerry Jones to quarterback Tony Romo to Garrett. Stephen Jones said the accountability lies with "the organization. We all work at this. We all have a lot of input in this. ... We all deserve whatever criticism comes our way. We deserve it. We have to be better than that. We owe our fans more. We need to have a better football team out there."

Asked why he believes in Garrett's stewardship, Jones gushed over his coach with a 16-16 record.

"First of all, I think Jason's incredibly smart," Jones said. "No one understands the game more. He grew up at a breakfast table knowing about the NFL. His father was a coach. He understands the league. He's a great leader, I believe.

"I think he leads the team in a great way. He's obviously been a very successful offensive coordinator, and he started out having success immediately, it wasn't like there was a huge learning curve for him as a play-caller. We've had a lot of great offenses here under Jason. We're moving the ball for the most part this year. Obviously ranked pretty high in terms of rank as a team on offense. I think the players respect him. I think he expects accountability."

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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