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NFL notes: Jones announces Cowboy coaches will return in ’09

SHARE NFL notes: Jones announces Cowboy coaches will return in ’09

IRVING, Texas — 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 personnel-wise, 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."

PATRIOTS MAY BE ROOTING FOR JETS: The Patriots' success this season without Tom Brady has been a surprise. Here's another one: They actually may root for the Jets on Sunday despite a history of bad blood between the teams.

New England's chances of making the playoffs could depend on a win by their longtime rivals over Miami.

But the Patriots avoid talking about it like quarterbacks try to sidestep sacks. If they lose at Buffalo, no other games will matter; the three-time Super Bowl champions would miss the postseason for the first time in six years.

"There are a lot of scenarios that need to happen for us to get in the playoffs," running back Sammy Morris said, "but they're all irrelevant if we lose."

The Patriots (10-5) would win the AFC East and play their first playoff game at home if they and New York (9-6) win. They would earn a wild-card berth over Baltimore (10-5) if they and the Dolphins win and the Ravens lose to Jacksonville. In that case, Miami (10-5) would win the AFC East.

Wins by Miami and Baltimore would eliminate the Patriots, no matter what they do.

Both the New York and Baltimore games are scheduled to start 3 hours, 15 minutes after New England's game begins at Buffalo.

SINGLETARY WON'T SAY IF MARTZ WILL RETURN: Mike Singletary was noncommittal Friday when the San Francisco 49ers' interim coach was asked whether offensive coordinator Mike Martz would return to the club with him next season. Singletary, 4-4 since taking over the 49ers (6-9) from fired coach Mike Nolan on Oct. 20, is widely expected to get the permanent job early next week.

He met with club officials Monday to outline his plans for the future, but it seems unlikely that they include Martz, the former St. Louis head coach who has done fairly solid work in his first season as the 49ers' coordinator.

PANTHERS DT KEMOEATU QUESTIONABLE: The Carolina Panthers could be without both starting defensive tackles for Sunday's game at New Orleans, perhaps enticing the pass-happy Saints to run the ball.

Damione Lewis missed practice for a third straight day Friday with a shoulder injury and was listed as doubtful. Former University of Utah star Maake Kemoeatu practiced on a limited basis and is questionable with a sprained right ankle that kept him out of last week's loss to the New York Giants.