Wade Phillips Gets the Pink Slip - Part One

In probably the least shocking decision of the century, Jerry Jones announced Monday that Wade Phillips was no longer the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.  This followed a total embarrassment of a defeat at the hands of Green Bay on Sunday Night Football where they were drummed 45-7.

To replace Phillips will be Offensive Coordinator and Assistant Head Coach Jason Garrett as the Interim Head Coach for the rest of the season.  Garrett will be Dallas' 8th head coach in team history.  Jones - who acts as Team President, Owner and General Manager of the club stressed that it was important to note that Garrett was merely an interim coach and would be able to apply for the head position at the beginning of next year.

Wade Phillips was the winning-est coach in Dallas history in the post-Tom Landry era ahead of Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson respectively.  So how did the Cowboys let that kind of winning go?  To understand that, let's look at his career with America's team.

It All Started Right About...Here

Phillips took over the head position in the 2007 season after Parcells left in a storm following the now famous Tony Romo playoff botched field goal.  Bill Parcells was known to be argumentative and was rumored to not have a great relationship with Jerry Jones.  What Phillips brought to the table was a winning resume from his time spent in Buffalo as a coach and an extensive knowledge of the 3-4 defense.  Jerry had decided that defense was the way to go with his budding superstar Tony Romo locked in.

Phillips proved Jerry right by taking the Cowboys to one of their winning-est seasons ever at 13-3 and secured a one seed in the playoffs.  It finally looked like the woes of last years expectations were over.  Then the Cowboys faced the Giants in the first round and got bounced 21-17 after a bad 4th down throw by Romo to Giants corner R.W. McQuarters to seal the game.

Dallas fans were outraged and were already calling for Phillips head after his first season. Jerry went on TV to assure everyone that Wade Philips would indeed be given a second chance the next year.  In the 2008-9 season Philip's team underperformed at 9-7 missing the playoffs.  Jerry Jones had to eat crow after his late season prediction that the Cowboys would reach the playoffs, but still went out publicly and said Phillips would be back the next year.

The 2009-10 season was somewhat of a turnaround.  The Cowboys went 11-5 and actually won a playoff game against the hapless Eagles who they had beaten twice already that year.  It was too late.  Fans already had it in their mind that Phillips wasn't the answer to getting their team over the top.  The media started to portray Phillips as an idiot based on his sideline demeanor and everyone was already calling for Jason Garrett to replace him.

A Broken Season

This year gave fans what they wanted and believed in.  The 1-7 first half of the season coupled with the loss of star quarterback Tony Romo made it glaringly obvious that the Cowboys lacked leadership.  Fans were forced to watch a rusty Jon Kitna flip through half of a play book as he continued to adjust to NFL timing again.  In the meantime, Wade had checked out after Romo went down to the Giants.  His defensive schemes became even more predictable than usual.  He mentioned in the last few press conferences that the team was under-performing and the reason was the coaching.  In short, he was begging to be let go.

The Cowboys, a team who was an early prediction by all the prognosticators to go to the Superbowl in their own stadium, fell apart.  They got blown out by the Jaguars, one of the saddest teams in the league as of late.  Then last week, they were crushed by a Green Bay team decimated with injuries.  Jerry Jones who had gone on record a week ago saying that he wouldn't fire a coach mid-season seemed to have made up his mind.  

Then, after yesterdays drubbing, Jones met with Cowboys executives and cut ties with Phillips. Jerry finally succumbed to fan outcry over Dallas' awful play.  He named Garrett the Interim Coach of a lost team with a bleak future.  After three and a half seasons as Dallas' winning-est coach, Wade exited stage left and fans slept easy.

Was Wade Phillips entirely to blame for the Cowboy's woes?  Was he bludgeoned by fans and the press because of his playoff record following the Parcells era?  Was he terminated because of the public whining for all three years of his tenure?  Was he the victim of a bar set too high by Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer, or was he lucky enough to ride the coattails of a talented offense for his stay?  We'll examine that next.

-Dave Lumpkin

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