Cowboys owner Jones says coach Phillips is coming back

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips, your job is safe. So says owner Jerry Jones.

While there really shouldn't be any question about Phillips' job status after a 13-3 record in his first season that earned Dallas the NFC's top seed, there has been some speculation Phillips has to win a playoff game to ensure his return.

"There's nothing that can happen in the playoffs that could change my thinking about him being the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys," Jones said Thursday. "And I don't know how you could have a question as to whether or not he's coaching or not for the Cowboys in the future."

So there won't be a coaching change, not even to keep offensive coordinator Jason Garrett from leaving to be a head coach somewhere else next season.

Garrett, hired last winter by Jones before Phillips became the new coach, last week interviewed for head coaching vacancies in Atlanta and Baltimore. Many view the former Cowboys backup quarterback who has been an NFL assistant coach only three seasons as the eventual successor to Phillips.

While Jones doesn't want to lose Garrett now, he won't get rid of Phillips for the purpose of creating an opening to promote the young coach, no matter what happens Sunday against the New York Giants.

"We all know how I feel about Jason Garrett, and that's no secret," Jones said. "I don't want to let him go, but there's things that I don't have control over."

Phillips said this week he wasn't concerned about all the speculation.

"My record stands for itself, that's all I can say. I mean, we're 13-3, we're No. 1 in the NFC, we're playing a playoff game which I think we'll win," Phillips said. "I don't have any control over anything except how I coach."

Phillips was fired after three seasons in Buffalo with a 29-19 record and two playoff losses. He lost his job in Denver with a 16-16 record and a playoff loss in two years.

"There really should be no question here. It's been just 10 months since Wade took this job, and look what has happened," Jones said. "With a double handful of Pro Bowlers (an NFL record 12) and 13 wins, I don't need to see any more, frankly, as far as validating that decision" to hire Phillips.

Garrett isn't the only Cowboys coach getting attention elsewhere.

Assistant head coach Tony Sparano is considered the front-runner to become head coach in Miami, where former Dallas coach Bill Parcells is the new executive vice president of football operations and former Cowboys scout Jeff Ireland is now general manager.

Sparano also interviewed for the vacancies in Baltimore and Atlanta.

Jones said the pursuit of Garrett and Sparano by other teams "isn't taking away from what we're doing to prepare to play for the New York Giants at all."

During a nearly 45-minute talk with reporters in advance of the Cowboys' first home playoff game in nine years, Jones said he was confident about what would happen Sunday.

"I feel good about us playing good football, really good football," he said.

It has been 11 years since the Cowboys last won in the playoffs, and that came a year after the last of their three Super Bowl titles in a span of four seasons.

And, no, Jones doesn't have any concerns about Tony Romo's focus after the quarterback's well-documented trip to Mexico last weekend with Jessica Simpson and a few teammates.

"I have no qualms, I have no concern about Tony's social life and about his relationship," Jones said. "I've had a lot of players in 19 years that I've had concerns in those areas, so I'm not a novice in this area. I don't have any with Tony."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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