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.

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Extending Phillips’ contract right decision

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Cowboys have signed head coach Wade Phillips to a contract extension that will run through the 2011 season. What this essentially means is that owner Jerry Jones picked up Phillips’ 2010 option and added another year onto the head coach’s contract.

Some fans may disagree, but this was a smart decision by Jones. He didn’t want to go into the offseason trying to convince free agents to come to Dallas when he can’t even make a decision about who his head coach will be. But now that Phillips is under contract through 2011, the Cowboys have stability at their head coach position, at least for the time being.

Another reason this makes sense is because a potential lockout is threatening to wipe out the 2011 season. Chances are a new CBA deal will be struck by then, but it doesn’t make sense for an owner like Jones to pay a new head coach millions of dollars for doing nothing in 2011. (Especially if that new head coach was a big name like Bill Cohwer.)

Don’t forget that the Cowboys improved this season under Phillips. They still came up short of Jones’ expectations, but there are 30 teams that fail to reach the Super Bowl every year and half of those teams aren’t close to reaching the title game. The Cowboys at least won a playoff game and are seemingly moving in the right direction.

Is Phillips the right man to lead the Cowboys to the Super Bowl? Who knows, but at least Jones didn’t make a rash decision based on Dallas’ loss to Minnesota last Sunday. If the Cowboys implode next season, then Jones can re-visit the situation again but at least right now he has a head coach that has already proven he can lead a team to the playoffs.

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Phillips, Williams will be back with Cowboys

According to a report by, Wade Phillips will return as the Cowboys’ head coach for 2010. Also set to return is receiver Roy Williams, who is reportedly “certain” to be back next season.

There has been no decision on whether to negotiate an extension of Phillips’ current contract, the source said. The Cowboys control Phillips’ fate because they have an option for the 2010 season under terms of Phillips’ original contract that will play him close to the $3 million he earned this season when he served as the league’s only head coach-defensive coordinator.

The source also said that disappointing wide receiver Roy E. Williams — who made $9 million this season — is certain to return after a lackluster first full season with the Cowboys. Williams’ season ended with him failing to make a single reception against the Vikings. Quarterback Tony Romo threw his direction only once, a throwaway under pressure.

When you take away his struggles in the postseason, Phillips has been a solid head coach for the Cowboys. He has produced two NFC East titles in three seasons and his defense allowed the fewest points in the NFC this year.

But the problem is that the Cowboys have enough talent to challenge for a Super Bowl and always fail to deliver. Beating the Eagles in the Wildcard round was a step in the right direction, but Dallas’ play yesterday in Minnesota was a complete disaster.

If Jones adds a few more pieces to the roster and the Cowboys suffer a similar fate next year, Phillips might be gone. But if he gets them to the NFC Championship Game, then Jones might have a dilemma similar to the one he faced this year.

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