Jerry Jones calls Jason Garrett 'the guy for the job' then leaves door open for him coaching elsewhere in 2020

If Jerry Jones is committed one way or another about Jason Garrett's future as the Dallas Cowboys' head coach, he's doing a pretty good keeping his intentions hidden.

The longtime team owner has said he won't make a coaching change before the end of the 2019 season, but he's also vented about the Cowboys' poor coaching during the team's two-game slide. With Garrett's contract set to expire following the year, Jones was once again asked about his coach's job security during a Tuesday appearance on 105.3 The Fan, and he couldn't have done a better job playing both sides.

"Jason Garrett's a good coach, let's start right there," Jones said. "He's one of the smartest coaches and one of the hardest-working coaches ... He knows this team better than anybody. When I, this year, decided to go with a younger makeup of the coaching staff -- I decided that -- I felt strongly that we could go and do that ... (and) he could be the safety net ... So I'm glad to have him. He is the guy for the job."

Sounds like a fairly firm endorsement, does it not? Jones even prefaced those remarks with some trademark optimism about the team's chances of an NFC East title and playoff run, not to mention a chance to "take it to the house." In fact, he added that if he were to go back to training camp and get the offer of a four-game stretch to earn a postseason berth with the Cowboys' current health and roster, he would take it.

"I don't think this team in any way has lost the ability to rise above a mentality of disappointment," he said.

But it was Jones' parting statement that's sure to fuel speculation for weeks to come: "In my opinion, Jason Garrett will be coaching in the NFL next year."

To be fair, Jones' final words of the interview came after a long response to a question about whether Garrett has to clear a certain bar to earn a contract beyond 2019 -- a response in which Jones once again shared appreciation for his current coach.

"There is no bar," he said, "and when I say that, I don't mean there's not a level, a point where I determine it's just not working or I determine it's working, but there's many things, there's boxes to be checked ... (and) he's got a tremendous list ... I've seen a lot of coaches, I've seen their names mentioned, but they can't guarantee me a Super Bowl or guarantee my fans a Super Bowl."

But to declare, with such confidence, that Garrett will be coaching in 2020 and yet, at the same time, leave wide open for debate the possibility he'll be coaching elsewhere, indicates Jones is far from settled on his man. And that in and of itself, far more than the optimistic praises for Garrett's steady hand, marks a departure from the Cowboys owner, who for 10 championship-less seasons has stood by Garrett, making him the second-longest-tenured head coach in franchise history.

CBS Sports Writer

Cody Benjamin joined CBS Sports in 2017 after time spent with SB Nation, various newspapers and his own Eagles outlet. Raised around the Philly sports scene, he now lives in Minnesota with his wife and... Full Bio

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