Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he ignores the speculation that Saints coach Sean Payton could take his job while also saying the Cowboys are close to turning things around.
Garrett addressed a number of issues during his Monday press conference, less than 24 hours after a 19-13 loss to the Falcons, but the most tension-filled moments came when he was asked about the Payton situation.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed Sunday that Payton’s contract extension with the Saints was voided, meaning he would not be under contract after this season and available for other teams to hire.
Garrett’s Cowboys are now 3-5 on the season and 16-16 overall since he was named head coach. Garrett was asked if he was made aware of Payton’s contract status on Sunday.
“There’s a lot of stories that circulate around our game,” Garrett said. “Certainly, some people bring those kinds of things to my attention, but again we’re focused on what we need to do. We had a heck of a challenge last night in Atlanta trying to play an undefeated team, that’s where our attention was.”
Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber, in an online column for USA Today, listed 10 reasons why he believes Payton will end up coaching the Cowboys. Payton is a former Cowboys assistant who still resides in the Dallas area.
Garrett said Payton’s contract status is not something he is concerned with.
“We’re just focused on what we need to do today,” Garrett said. “That’s where our focus is. We’re focused on being our best day to day and week to week. This week it will be a great challenge going up to Philadelphia.”
Garrett also said it’s not too late for his team to reverse its trend. The Cowboys have lost four of their last five games.
“If you look at the opponents we’ve played, the five losses that we have are all against good football teams. I think three of them [were] at their place. We’ve done some things that would make you think that we could win those ballgames. Ultimately, we didn’t get the job done,” Garrett said.
“But to answer your question do we think we’re close? Absolutely. But that’s the nature of this league. There are a lot of teams that are close, but you’ve got to finish the job. You’ve got to win the game.”
While Garrett deflected comments about Payton, he didn’t shy away from taking the blame for the Cowboys’ shortcomings.
“I take full responsibility for it,” Garrett said. “It’s my job, I’m the head coach of the football team, so I’m responsible for 3-5 and all the issues that we have within our team, and I’ve got to make sure that we get them right.”
Garrett continued to stress that the Cowboys are doing some things well, even in another mistake-filled loss like Sunday’s in Atlanta.
“We’ve done some good things against some good teams,” Garrett said. “But the fact is we haven’t gotten it done to win the games.”