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Firing Phillips the right decision for Cowboys

Whether it’s Wade Phillips or Jason Garrett that finishes out the rest of the season as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, the team isn’t going to the playoffs. But Jerry Jones’ decision to fire Phillips on Monday isn’t about making the playoffs.

Jones needed to send a message to those that will be around past this year that the lack of effort and execution that the Cowboys have displayed this year won’t be tolerated. Not all of the team’s problems are because of Phillips, but the head coach is always the first one on the chopping block when things fall apart.

You always hear about how Phillips is a players’ coach, but most of his players stopped playing for him weeks ago. I don’t think there’s any question that Phillips can coach in this league, but obviously the players stopped responding to his methods and Jones had no choice but to let him go after the embarrassing 45-7 loss in Green Bay on Sunday night.

Without Tony Romo, Garrett’s chances of succeeding are fairly slim. But he won’t be measured on wins and losses over the next eight weeks – he’ll be measured on how the players respond. If they quit on him like they quit on Phillips, then Garrett may be searching for a job after the season as well.

Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden’s names will be brought up repeatedly over the next two months in connection with the Dallas job, but consider this: No head coach has ever won the Super Bowl with his second team. Bill Parcells (Giants/Patriots), Dan Reeves (Broncos/Falcons) and Mike Holmgren (Packers/Seahawks) all got close, but they couldn’t pull the feat off. That’s not to say that Cowher or Gruden would be bad choices to replace Phillips, but Jones needs to at least consider bringing in someone fresh.

It’ll be interesting to see not only whom Dallas hires at the end of the season, but also whether or not Phillips will get another head coaching job next year. He may have to settle for a defensive coordinator position after what transpired with the Cowboys this season.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Jerry Jones to meet with coaching staff; Wade Phillips not at Valley Ranch

Jerry Jones wants to meet with his coaching staff Monday afternoon following an embarrassing loss to the Packers on Sunday night. It’s unclear at this point if he plans to fire head coach Wade Phillips, who has yet to show up to Valley Ranch on Monday according to ESPN.com.

If you’re an NFL betting man, you’re putting your money on “Canning -600.” After the ‘Boys lost to the Jaguars and Packers the past two weeks, one would think that things couldn’t get much worse in Dallas. But seeing how disinterested the players were in Green Bay on Sunday night, it stands to reason that things could get much, much worse.

As I wrote following the game, it’s time for Jones to jettison Phillips and go in another direction. Jason Garrett certainly hasn’t done anything to deserve a promotion but why not see what he’s got over the final two months of the season? If you’re Jones, why continue to put yourself and your fan base through this nightmare when you don’t have to? Phillips may be a great guy, but his players have quit on him.

And you know what? Maybe he’s quit, too. Nobody likes to be criticized and not all of the Cowboys’ issues can be pinned on Phillips. There’s only so much he can do before he has to trust that the players will step up and execute. But there’s probably part of him that just says, “Let’s get this thing over with already – I’m tired of waiting for the axe to fall.”

Stay tuned – this will be a story all week.

Wade Phillips must go

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 19: Head coach Wade Phillips of the Dallas Cowboys reacts during a 27-20 loss against the Chicago Bears at Cowboys Stadium on September 19, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Packers showed up to Lambeau Field on Sunday night and to their surprise, it was “Free Win Night” at the stadium.

I hear the Giants have the same promotion schedule for next Sunday in East Rutherford.

Pathetic, unmotivated, horrendous, brutal, horrible, terrible – they all work when describing the 2010 Dallas Cowboys. They don’t tackle, they don’t block, and they sure as hell don’t care. They’re laughingstock of the NFL right now.

And losing Tony Romo isn’t an excuse. Jon Kitna is useless but he doesn’t play defense. He doesn’t stand in the backfield and allow blitzing linebackers to have a free shot on the quarterback. He’s a part of the nightmare in Dallas but a small one at that.

So is Wade Phillips for that matter. What do you want Phillips to do? He has a roster full of players that are clearly only interested in picking up a paycheck every two weeks, so do you want him to hop up and down? Scream and yell? Do the rah-rah speech? That’s not his style and it never has been. The only thing he can do is go about his daily routine until Jerry Jones says, “Hey Wade, we need to talk. Come into my office…now.”

Which should be soon, by the way. After the Cowboys were destroyed 45-7 by the aforementioned Packers on Sunday Night Football, there’s no way Jones can retain Phillips for another week, day, minute or second. The big picture (making the playoffs) has been destroyed, but Jones might as well see what he has in Jason Garrett. Garrett has completely lost whatever touch he had as a playcaller, but what the hell – Jones is paying him top dollar so he might as well see what the redhead can do over the next eight weeks.

I hate to see anyone lose their job but this is a performance-based business and the Cowboys ain’t performing. I’m sure Jones would like to jettison a handful of players as well, but he has to start with the head coach first. Phillips is done; what more is there to see?

As for the Packers, this was a great win (especially with how banged up this team is) but it’s hard to talk them up given how unmotivated the Cowboys were. That’s not the Packers’ fault, of course, and I’m not taking anything away from their truly dominating performance. But I’m not going to sit here and tickle their balls after the sewer water the Cowboys just made us swallow.

Still, despite all of their injuries, the last two weeks have reaffirmed that the Packers’ Super Bowl hopes have not been dashed.

Should the Cowboys fire Wade Phillips midseason?

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 31: (L-R) Head coach Wade Phillips and assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys looks on against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Cowboys Stadium on October 31, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The 2010 version of the Dallas Cowboys are dead and in the spirit of Halloween, there are no Jason-type comebacks on the horizon.

They’re done, finished, caput. At 1-6, they’re tied with the Panthers for having the worst record in the NFC and whether they fire Wade Phillips now or torture him and themselves by waiting until after the season, 2010 is over with.

Thus, what is an owner like Jerry Jones to do? He knows that no matter what he does with his head coaching position, it’s not going to matter for this season. So does he wait it out and then start fresh the second the season is over or does he start making changes now?

The short answer is that he must make changes now. The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Jones is considering making a coaching change, which he should. His team can’t execute game plans, they can’t tackle, they have completely forgotten basic fundamentals, they have no energy and play with zero urgency. They’re a mess.

Jones can’t hire someone from the outside right now because it would wind up being a useless move. Nobody could go to Dallas, install an entirely new system in a week and have the Cowboys – this Cowboys team – competing again this season. There’s just no way.

But that doesn’t mean Jones can’t send a message to his players that this type of play won’t do. If he fires Phillips, he’ll at least be telling his players and fanbase that he’s willing to do something – anything, to right the ship.

Who would replace Phillips? Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett certainly doesn’t deserve a promotion, but Jones once viewed him as Phillips’ replacement so he might as well see what the red head can do over the next nine weeks. If Garrett stabilizes things and gets this team to compete again, maybe Jones can consider making him the full-time head coach when the season is over.

Or, whatever. The end of the season is a long way away. The here and now is what matters and the here and now is ugly with Wade Phillips in charge. Granted, the Cowboys’ problems aren’t all Phillips’ fault but he oversees things and right now he oversees one of the worst teams in football (even though they have more talent than the likes of the Panthers).

Jerry Jones has to do something, even if the 2010 season is a goner.

Losing is a collective effort now for Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 19: Head coach Wade Phillips of the Dallas Cowboys reacts during a 27-20 loss against the Chicago Bears at Cowboys Stadium on September 19, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Jerry Jones said Monday that he wouldn’t fire Wade Phillips during the season. He didn’t say whether or not he’d fire him a millisecond after the season, just that he wouldn’t give him the boot during the season.

This may displease Dallas fans, but why should Jones fire him? Phillips isn’t the only reason the Cowboys are 1-4, nor is he even the main reason.

The Cowboys racked up double-digit penalties in their loss to the Vikings on Sunday. They did the same thing in their loss to Tennessee two weeks ago and are now tied with Detroit as the most penalized team in the NFL.

Is that on coaching or the players? Before you answer “coaching,” remember that Phillips made it a point of emphasis to his players after Marc Colombo was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the loss to the Titans not to jeopardize the team by making stupid mistakes. And yet there was Miles Austin on Sunday, leapfrogging over Roy Williams in celebration over Williams’ touchdown in the first quarter. Austin was also penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and although the penalty didn’t lead to a score for the opposition like Columbo’s did, it still put the ‘Boys in bad position.

The penalty is a reminder that not everything is Phillips’ fault in Dallas. He didn’t leapfrog over Williams – Austin did. Those kinds of penalties are on the individual – not the Cowboys’ coaching staff.

That said, Phillips and his crew don’t escape criticism here. When Tony Romo threw that horrendous interception to E.J. Henderson with under three minutes to play on Sunday, Marion Barber was 5-for-5 picking up first downs at that point. Yet with his team facing a 3rd-and-2 from the Dallas 22-yard line, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett called a pass play and the result was disastrous. He did the same thing earlier in the game from practically the same spot on the field and Romo threw an interception then, too.

Garrett also out-thought himself at the beginning of the game when he ran Barber three straight times to pick up an easy first down on the Cowboys’ first possession, then called three straight passing plays which netted a punt. I know Minnesota’s claim to fame defensively is stopping the run, but for the love of foghorns, Jason, keep the ball on the ground if it’s working.

But this is what the Cowboys do every week now. The players shoot themselves in the foot with dumb penalties while the coaching staff either fails to make the proper adjustments or winds up out-guessing itself. It’s a sick cycle right now and one that is sure to continue unless Phillips, the players or Jones does something about it.

Something has to give in Dallas.

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