Don't worry Wade, it wasn't you
Something that has never happened since Jerral W. Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 happened yesterday, Jerry fired his head coach midseason, terminating Wade Phillips after an embarrassing 45-7 loss to the Packers on Sunday, dropping the Cowboys to an awesome 1-7 in the 2010 NFL season. Offensive coordinator and one time head coach in waiting Jason Garrett assumes the reins for the rest of the season.
I am sure all of Redskinsland joins me when I say in all sincerity
More than simply dropping the Cowboys with finality out of the playoff race, this move makes clear how far the Cowboys have fallen, at the start of the season America's Team (lol) had high expectations of being the first team to play on its home field in the Super Bowl, number 45 of which will be played at the Taj Mahal of the NFL, the new Cowboys Stadium in February. The Cowboys are a complete mess with discipline and execution problems all up and down the team. As a Redskins fan this warms my heart like a cup of hot chocolate on a snowy day.
It did not take an advanced degree to see this coming, and now begins the apocrypha that EVERYone saw this coming, I watched the horrific showing Dallas put up against Houston in an August preseason game then went over to Hogs Haven to write about it, later that week a coworker told me was willing to bet the Rams would end 2010 with a better record than the Cowboys, it was not exactly a bold call to look at that team and think there was an overconfidence problem.
I bear Wade Phillips no ill will, I think he is a good coach, he just has an expiration date, he is an aw shucks players coach who basically ignores the offense, in addition to being the head coach Wade was also the defensive coordinator. Wade is not a fire breather so he is not going to motivate his players with his you come on you guys are professionals post game speeches, one thing I have learned from watching so much football at all levels is that player need coaching all their careers, they need to be reminded constantly to keep focus, to forget the last play because the success you earn in the NFL always starts with the next play.
Jessica Simpson, Kardashians, reality shows, a stadium with cage dancers I mean WHAT THE FUCK GUYS.
They loved being Dallas Cowboys so much the past few years they got complacent and it is simply not Wade Phillips' gig to get a stray team back on point.
I wrote extensively about the Cowboys coaching search and options following the departure of Bill Parcells in January 2007, the first thing Jerry Jones did was hire Jason Garrett, as either head coach or offensive coordinator with a big to be determined hanging out there while Jerry looked at other candidates. With the Jim Zorn hiring debacle still more than a year in the future, the notion that a team would hire a guy and then determine where he fit in the organization was ludicrous and damaging, well paid players with contracts can smell uncertainty in the wind and loyalty is as much about who is in charge as who is not. Hiring a guy and then telling the organization ok he may be the guy let's wait and see was a mistake from the beginning.
So with a possible head coach in the fold Jerry went out and surveyed the landscape, coming up with Mike Singletary who had been in coaching all of four seasons at the time of his interview and who is sure to be fired from the 49ers at the end of the season, pairing Mike up with Jason who had all of two seasons coaching experience was an idea so bad that even Jerry Jones did not bite.
Norval Turner was the only other real candidate and the 49ers gave him a raise to stay, so Jerry settled on Wade Phillips, while no team can ever publicly say a guy has a shelf life, at the time I looked at the plan as this: Wade coaches for a couple three seasons then moves on, either under contract expiration or honorable resignation, the idea that it could end with a firing is a bad PR move because it would call into question the competence of the coaching and management staffs, so if Jerry really wanted to marinate Jason Garrett and then promote him in the near to middle term, it was going to have to be a joyous transition, not in the midst of a storm.
For those of you into the palace intrigue, what kind of relationship do you think Jason Garrett had with Wade Phillips with this knowledge? Have Jason and the owner had a lot of um meetings over the years?
Fast forward to 13-3 and a playoff loss on a Tony Romo snap bobble in 2007, 9-7 and no playoffs in 2008 and you get to 2009. Dallas made the playoffs at 11-5 season, capping the regular season with a 24-0 shutout of the Eagles, then an emphatic 34-14 beating of the same Eagles team in the same stadium in the playoffs.
Even though Dallas lost the next game to the Vikings, the Cowboys had achieved a milestone: Their first playoff victory since 1996. A month earlier Jerry Jones had come right out and said it, if the Cowboys did not get into the playoffs, Wade would be fired, the strong implication was also that Dallas had to win a playoff game, again what would have been their first since 1996.
So when they did and then did, Jerry was stuck, he could fire Wade after a win any more than the Giants could fire Tom Coughlin after winning the Super Bowl.
And now we have this season, soft, undisciplined players arguing on the sidelines, the quarterback out for what will be the season because a fullback did not pick up a blocking assignment, culminating in a humiliating loss to the Packers and the inevitable decision to fire Wade.
So now Jason Garrett becomes head coach in a time when the quality of his offense is strongly in question, in the midst of a storm, the guy in waiting from 2007 now has become just a guy, the seasoning he was supposed to get may actually turn out to have been dry rot, the Curly R prediction is Jason Garrett is out at the end of the season, having never been considered a serious candidate for the full time job.
For the record, lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery discussed this at length on the way home from the Colts at Eagles game Sunday, while listening to the Sunday night debacle on Sirius NFL Radio, his call is for John Fox in Dallas next season, I think this makes sense, with John's contract expiring at the end of the year and the Panthers in need of a change, the Carolina job is wired to Bill Cowher whose home is in the Charlotte area, Jerry Jones will strike out with Cowher and settle on John Fox.
Wade Phillips coaching his last game with the Cowboys: AP Photo from here.