Dallas Cowboys owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones made it clear Tuesday that head coach Jason Garrett is not simply a lap dog for the front office regime.
In his weekly appearance on "Shan & RJ" on 105.3 "The Fan" [KRLD-FM], Jones, who was answering the hosts' questions about having a good on-and-off the field relationship with a head coach, meandered his way into stating that Garrett isn't a marionette who dances on the strings Jones pulls.
"It's really important to have a relationship," Jones said. "Is it important that you have a yes-man there from any perspective? It's important not to have a yes-man. Jason Garrett is not a yes-man. I don't say that must me protest. I say that because he's not. Is Jason respectful of the order of things? Of course he is."
Part of the "order of things" is the direct communication that the Cowboys head coach can have with the Cowboys owner.
"I've always thought the way we run the team, the way I run the team is straight line to the big decisions," Jones explained. "The opposite of that would be the coach has to answer to the general manager. That's usually who hires him. And then the general manager is sitting there going to the owner, or committee of owners. But going to [others] for the big decisions? We don't have any of that. You can go straight line, go right in there."
Because there is a direct line from owner to head coach, it creates the impression that Jones, who in his introductory press conference in 1989 said he would control everything "from socks to jocks" in the organization, influences the head coach's decisions.
The accusation of being a yes-man is one that every Cowboys coach, sans Bill Parcells from 2003-06, has had to live down since Jimmy Johnson "mutually decided" with Jones to leave the Cowboys as head coach in 1994 after two consecutive Super Bowl wins.
Understood to be a conflict of personalities and credit for assembling a multiple-Super Bowl winning roster, Johnson left the organization with Barry Switzer, a players' coach, his immediate successor.
One Super Bowl win and nary so much as a conference title game appearance since 1996, and the impression is Jones hires coaches who simply do what he says as striving to be in the NFL's final four or further isn't as big of a priority as staying in good graces.
There were questions throughout the week that Garrett's job with the Cowboys may not be safe and that he could be the second coach in club history since Wade Phillips, Garrett's predecessor, to be fired mid-season.
Even though Garrett is in the final year of his contract and already on enough of a hot seat, the punditry stoked flames that Jones was warming up the seat underneath Garrett as the club endured a three-game losing streak.
Jones didn't believe the talk bothered Garrett, who is 81-62 with the Cowboys with a 2-3 playoff record.
Said Jones: "He's focused. He's got thick skin. He's seasoned. He's used to that. We saw him at his best out there Sunday and we saw his team really prepared and at their best."
The Cowboys clobbered the Philadelphia Eagles 37-10 Sunday night, took first place in the NFC East with a 4-3 record, and are halfway towards sweeping their divisional foes with a 3-0 division record.
The win got the Cowboys back to their winning ways and silenced the coaching chatter, buzzing that even got to the level of former Florida Gators and Ohio State Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer weighing in and saying he would absolutely listen if Jones offered him the job to coach the Cowboys.
Of course, those comments did not offend Jones, even though Garrett still has nine games to go.
"For Urban Meyer to say that is a compliment, period," Jones said. "I really know that. The job is a great job. Now, that's not implying that I made it that way or I don't make it that way. It's just a place that — the other night, for example, we broke all records, appearances before 20 million people."
"Make no mistake about it. If you are bent that way or you have an inclination as a person, you've got to go to center stage. If you like to have to answer or have an opportunity to be at the very top, then our organization gives you that opportunity."
What comes with the territory is getting labeled as a yes-man, at least until the owner publicly states you aren't.
Do you think Jason Garrett has the same autonomy that other NFL coaches enjoy what with the rare structure he has with the Cowboys? Share your thoughts on the hierarchy in Dallas with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.