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Jones: Romo ahead of schedule; Garrett fate not tied to playoffs

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Jerry Jones says Cowboys aren't rebuilding because of Tony Romo. (USATSI)
Jerry Jones says Cowboys aren't rebuilding because of Tony Romo. (USATSI)

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Tony Romo, who underwent back surgery in December, is ahead of schedule in his rehab, according to Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones, who said that the quarterback has yet to start throwing passes, but is expected to take part in the team's offseason program, which begins April 21.

"He is ahead of expectations. He is ahead of where we expected him to be," Jones said this week from the annual owners meetings, via ESPN.

Both Romo and Jones have faced criticism in recent years; the former for ill-timed turnovers and not winning in the postseason, the latter for just about everything else, including signing Romo to a $108-million contract extension last offseason.

But Jones, who has made it clear that he will not relinquish his GM duties, doesn't think the Cowboys are in rebuilding mode because they have their franchise quarterback.

"You don't rebuild with Romo,” he said. “The firepower we have on offense and where we are with our running backs, and our receivers -- you don't rebuild with an offense that's got the capability we've got. We didn't bring [Scott] Linehan in here to rebuild.”

Fine. But the defense, which was garbage last season (the unit ranked 30th in Football Outsiders' efficiency metric, ahead of only the Packers and the Chargers), parted ways with defensive end/outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher. Now it's up to new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to magically fix all that went wrong last season under Monte Kiffin.

Meanwhile, coach Jason Garrett, who remains perpetually on the hot seat, is entering the final year of his contract. He has gone 8-8 in each of his three full seasons on the job, but to hear Jones tell it, the Garrett's future in Dallas doesn't hinge on the team making the playoffs in 2014.

“I don't think so,” Jones told the Dallas Morning News. “I don't look at it that way at all.

"We've got a lot of experience together. It's no secret that we probably are shoulder to shoulder on the success we'd like for this team to have with him as head coach and what it would do for our fans' future, our future. He's more capable today than he was when he took over as head coach. If that arrow is going up, it just makes sense to have our future with Jason.''

But not so much sense to extend his contract now. Still, Jones says he has confidence in Garrett's abilities.

“There's more,'' he said. “I can assure you there's more than what we've seen and it's logical that it is. I want to get more. We paid a pretty good price for that.''

In related news: Jimmy Johnson is somewhere laughing hysterically.

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