The Wade Fade: Can He Get the Cowboys a Win in the Playoffs?

Wade Phillips has had four chances to win a playoff game as a head coach. He's 0 for 4.  Is he cursed or is he lacking as a coach? To win a playoff game you have to make it to the post-season first and that means you have to win more games than you lose. I want to compare Wade's record against past Cowboy coaches to see if he is the right guy to even get us into the show.

Cowboys coaches have included the notorious hard case Duane Charles Parcells, the mercurial James William Johnson, the stoic Thomas Wade Landry and now the soft and cuddly Harold Wade Phillips. Which coach has been the most successful over the span of the coach's careers during the NFL regular season?

I took a look at the winning percentages of the four coaches over the span of their years as a head coach. A partial season will count as a full season in regards to winning percentage as a head coach. For example, Phillips was with the Saints  for four games 1985, his one win gives him a .250 winning percentage as a head coach that season.  I will include every team the coach represented, in Phillips' case, New Orleans, Buffalo, Denver, Atlanta and Dallas.

Make the jump.

Coach Years as HC Games Win Loss Ties Winning %

Phillips

9

119

70

49

0

.588

Parcells

19

303

172

130

1

.570

Johnson

9

144

80

64

0

.556

Landry

29

418

250

162

6

.607

 

In the regular season, Wade is in good company, finishing second to the great Tom Landry among Cowboy coaches with at least 9 years as an NFL head coach. It would appear that Wade can get us to the playoffs, can he get us through the playoffs?

Landry, Johnson and Parcells have all won Super Bowls, Phillips has yet to win a playoff game. Let's take a quick look at those four playoff losses.

Three of Wade's four playoff appearances have been in wild card games.  In 1993 as coach of the Denver Broncos, Phillips met the Raiders and Art Shell in the Coliseum. The Raiders had a come from behind victory over Phillip's Broncos the week before, and trounced the Broncos 42 to 24 in that wild card game.

In 1998, Philips coached the Bills to the wild card spot and faced the Miami Dolphins, led by Jimmy Johnson. The Dolphins forced 5 turnovers but Buffalo rallied and fought back. Late in the fourth quarter the Bills drove to Miami's one yard line behind by a score of  24 - 14. The Bill's receiver Andre Reed was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and Buffalo had to settle for a field goal.  Buffalo recovered the onside kick and drove to Miami's five yard line. The Bill's QB Doug Flutie was hit making a throw, fumbled for the fifth turnover, and Miami won 24 to 17. (You were probably watching the playoff game later that same day in Texas Stadium. Troy Aikman was sacked four times and threw three interceptions during a loss to the Cardinals.)

The next year, 1999,  Wade returned to the playoffs with another wild card spot against the Titans. This game is known in Nashville as The Music City Miracle. This is the playoff game where Wade Phillips' Buffalo Bills drove down and kicked a 41-yard field goal to pull ahead of Tennessee with 16 seconds left to play. The Bills kicked off and their stingy defense only had to hold on for a couple of plays to win, however, there was a controversial across the field lateral on that kickoff and Tennessee ran the ball 75 yards for a touchdown and the win. Bruce DeHaven, the 13-year Buffalo special teams coach was fired after the season. Phillips was roundly criticized for benching Doug Flutie in place of Rob Johnson. Flutie led the team to the post-season but was inexplicably benched before the playoffs.

In 2007, Phillips coached the Cowboys to a first-seed playoff position in which the Giants, twice defeated in the regular season, came to Texas Stadium. The Cowboys led halfway through the third quarter. Dallas penalties kept Giant drives alive and Dallas' penalties killed their own drives. The game ended in the final minutes with the Cowboys driving for a win, and Romo being intercepted in the end zone. The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl. This was Wade's fourth playoff loss.

A coach's job is to get his team prepared and in a position to win the game. Does Wade Phillips deserve to get the blame for those playoff losses?

The bigger question: Can he get the Cowboys a win in the playoffs?

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