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Thursday, November 13, 2008
Updated: November 14, 11:28 AM ET
Jones opines on playoffs, Pacman, Phillips in interview

Associated Press

IRVING, Texas -- Jerry Jones "absolutely" believes the Dallas Cowboys will make the playoffs, isn't considering a coaching change and would welcome Adam "Pacman" Jones back to the team if he's reinstated.

The Cowboys owner, in an impromptu gathering with reporters during practice Thursday, said he expects his struggling Cowboys to recover. They have gone from Super Bowl favorites to a 5-4 team tied for third place in the NFC East after losing four of its past six games.

"That's not optimism," Jones said. "I certainly do feel we're going to be a team that plays well enough to be thinking about the playoffs."

Coming off its open date, Dallas gets injured quarterback Tony Romo back Sunday night at Washington after he missed three games with a broken pinkie on his throwing hand.

"I would say Romo gives you a legitimate reason to not have been your best or been what you might have expected over the last three games," Jones said.

The Cowboys lost two of three without Romo, and the only win was notable for being the worst offensive performance in a victory in franchise history. But they were already struggling when he broke his finger on the opening play of overtime in a loss at Arizona on Oct. 12.

After the Cowboys lost at St. Louis a week later, Jones emphatically said that coach Wade Phillips' job wasn't in danger during this season. The owner was even more committed to the coach on Thursday.

"There's just absolutely no, I can tell you without hesitation, thought in my mind about him not coaching the Dallas Cowboys in the future, past this year," Jones said. "No thought. I haven't given that one ounce of consideration. ... His contract is his contract."

Phillips got a three-year contract with an option for a fourth season when he replaced Bill Parcells in February 2007. The Cowboys went 13-3 and had 13 Pro Bowl players in their first season under Phillips, but lost to the New York Giants in the playoffs.

With the recent struggles, and supposed successor-in-waiting Jason Garrett already on the staff, there has been intensified speculation about Phillips' job status.

Jerry on Cowboys

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Garrett, the team's offensive coordinator who was hired weeks before Phillips, got $3 million and an expanded title (assistant head coach) to stay after being a finalist for two other NFL head coaching jobs last offseason.

"I understand why that question is. I do, and I helped make that question probably legitimate," Jones said. "But it is worth it in my mind to have him here and have Wade here. It's worth it to have to answer that question."

Asked if he was satisfied with Phillips' performance this season, Jones said he was disappointed that the Cowboys haven't won more games and that it was fair to ask if the coach was to blame.

"What I'm hoping is that all of the positive things that Wade Phillips is about really does kick in in a way that gives him his due and gives him his credit," Jones said. "I thought that for whatever the reasons he didn't get the credit that he should have had last year."

Told of the owner's comment's after practice, Phillips said his only concern was the Redskins.

"This game is the most important [for] our team," Phillips said. "I don't worry about all of that. I do the best I can do."

Cornerback Adam Jones was suspended indefinitely last month for violating the league's personal conduct policy. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he would determine the length of the suspension after four games, which would be after Sunday's game in Washington.

Only six weeks after being reinstated from a 17-month suspension because of repeated legal problems, the cornerback was involved in an alcohol-related scuffle Oct. 7 with one of his bodyguards at a private party in Dallas. The Cowboys had employed the bodyguards to try to keep Jones out of trouble.

The league said reinstatement would depend on strict compliance with treatment plans and an evaluation by "clinical experts." Jones has been going through alcohol rehabilitation.

"He's spending some time in Boston this week and in here for the weekends," Jerry Jones said. "He's spent some time with his work and counseling that he's doing there and then he'll be here for the rest of the time."

Jerry Jones said he had been in contact with Adam Jones "on numerous occasions" and said he would welcome the player back if he "does the kinds of things that the league has asked him to do and that he's doing. If he's done that and satisfied that criteria, then yes, we would."

The Cowboys owner said he has visited with some key NFL officials, but not Goodell, about Adam Jones' status and didn't know when a decision would be made.

If the player does return, Jerry Jones isn't worried about it becoming a distraction.

"No, not if he's adhering to the kind of things that he has to address," the owner said. "He was a hard worker, hard practicer and certainly contributed positively to our team. So I don't consider him a distraction."