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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