This all starts with the coaching mentality.
Entering the season with a self-entitled “marshmellow” training camp is no way to focus and prepare a team. Given, I’ve never been an NFL head coach, but how can you honestly expect to prepare a team for 16 grueling regular season games and potentially the postseason when you are afraid to do anything that might upset their fragile egos, including expecting them to practice at full-speed. Sure, the idea is to maintain as many healthy roster players as possible, but when they don’t take lumps early in the season because you are preserving their health, they aren’t testing and training their bodies for the everyday lumps of the regular season. Hence, nearly a quarter of our team was injured before the bye this year.
Further, by accepting the blame after every single mishap there is no sense of accountability. While its certainly noble of Wade Phillips to sit in the post game interviews of our 7 loses and preach that “geez-loiuse, this is all my fault, aww shucky darns,” I tend to think that a definite portion of the fault rests on the head coach, but to make these statements after EVERY loss is an insult to position and a sarcastic way of mocking players, reporters, and fans alike. Are we supposed to believe that he honestly feels this level of responsibility after every game, yet doesn’t have the resolve to stand-up to the weekly tirades of players like Owens, Newman, Ellis, and countless others who question the decisions of the coaching staff that is quite frankly covering for their asses?
All of this came to a head for me yesterday early in the 2nd half. On a Cowboys fourth and 1 on the Cowboys half with the score at 27-3, Wade Phillips elected to punt the ball away and put the defense back on the field. Tony Romo was having none of this, and adamantly sent the punt team back off the field and called his own number for the first down because the coaching staff expected to kick the ball away and couldn’t send in an offensive play in time. I honestly loved the guts and conviction shown by Romo, and applaud him for having the courage to recognize the situation and convert. However, what other successful tenured NFL head coach would allow this decision from a QB who isn’t named Peyton Manning (or MAYBE Tom Brady. Maybe.)? Coughlin? Holmgren? Reid? Parcells?? I think the Tuna would have called the timeout, chewed Romo to pieces, the benched him for the next series.
Later in the half, Fox was kind enough to show the ensuing chaos breaking out on the Cowboys sideline. Romo’s head buried in his hands, T.O. acting nonchalant as could be on the sidelines, Tank Johnson causing a scene after his incredible 22 tackle season. He and Ken Hamlin clearly got into a verbal altercation, but Hamlin, understanding the situation tried to diffuse the situation as best as possible.
My long-winded point is this; Wade Phillips has lost control of his team. The players don’t respect his coaching decisions, and they are not responding to his methods of coaching to such an extreme that it has caused dissension amongst the teams many superstars throughout the season. Players now feel that they have to take their positional assignments up themselves and this can’t work against ANY NFL team, no matter the level of talent. I love Wade Phillips and have enjoyed seeing him work with this team because I think he is a genuinely caring coach, but if that is the best we can say about him why don’t we offer him the position of Defensive Coordinator and see if he can help develop his “specialty.” He could be cut out as the head coach of another NFL team, but not the Cowboys. Not with this many demanding personalities and egos.
My dream? Get Bill Cowher’s fiery scowl out there on the field and see what happens when a coach gets the absolute best from his team every Sunday. It might be rough around the edges, but atleast we wouldn’t have to watch the “shucky darn” post-game interviews after losses. Accountability would be bred, and success would follow.
And if ole’ Wade decides he doesn’t want to be the DC under Cowher or whomever succeeds him, I believe Romeo Crennel is about to get canned, and I for one wouldn’t mind having the mastermind of the Patriot’s defense of old around.