Near as I can figure, Wade Phillips' biggest p.r. problem is that he doesn't scream enough to satisfy the masses..
What a damning criticism. While we're piling on, let me also note that he's not a particularly snappy dresser. There. Guess we told you, Wade.
Allow me to suggest--in a quiet, calm voice--that some of us need to stop squawking about Coach Phillips' reluctance to throw a sideline hissy-fit or to publicly berate players. Like those are bad things? Coaching is business management. Just as a wide range of personal managerial styles can be effective, so too can successful, even championship, coaches come in all styles and demeanors. Yes, Vince Lombardi got it done. So did Tony Dungy. Jimmy Johnson got it done. So did Tom Landry.
The stereotype of the maniacal, spittle-spewing, over-the-top Coach As Intimidator is as much a part of the modern fabric of American football as the remote control channel-changer. Both The Screamer and the remote advance our enjoyment of the sport as spectators. But while both have their utility, neither is absolutely necessary.
The truth is that football players at every level will respond to an almost unlimited number of coaching styles, on one condition: They won't tolerate a phony. Players can read a poseur like Peyton Manning can read Cover Two. It's all about personal authenticity. Vince Lombardi as the Dalai Lama wouldn't fly. Neither would Wade Phillips as Mike Singetary or Rex Ryan.
Coach Phillips is a genuinely nice man. Should he apologize? If so, should he also apologize for being one of the top defensive minds in the game? Should he apologize for his vast experience and coaching pedigree? Should he apologize for the fact that his players respect--and, yes, horror of horrors--generally like him?
The public perception of Coach Phillips is that his players walk on and over him. Wrong. The public perception is that any mistake made by any player at any time results solely from a lack of fear of the head coach. Absurd.
A coach, like any boss, has to be himself. Respect starts with personal genuineness. Wade Phillips trying to be Bill Cowher? I don't think so. Think about your own work and/or athletic career. My guess is that you've responded positively to a spectrum of leadership styles, and rejected just as many. There is no doubt that fear can be an amazingly effective short-term human motivator. But in the big picture, when chasing big goals, the carrot trumps the stick.
This is not a blind defense of Coach Phillips. His stress levels can be all too evident during crises. His reaction to criticism is often uncomfortably defensive and contradictory. The division of labor on his staff is not always well-defined. His postseason record, last year's win over the Eagles notwithstanding, "is what it is."
But the idea that Wade Phillips is too nice to succeed? Please. Anyone who has witnessed a Cowboy practice knows he can get in a player's face with obvious serious intent when necessary.
He does, however, frequently need to do something about his wardrobe.