That was a pretty interesting press conference. Wade Phillips was much like what I expected, an aw-shucks country boy with an understated wit, a guy everybody seems to like. It's a family affair with Wade Phillips. He talked about he wants the players to feel like it's a family, and a family has these attributes according to Phillips - trust, loyalty and common purpose. Even supposed bad boy Terrell Owens has a spot in the family.
This press conference was in stark contrast to the cold, clinical - but always entertaining - Tuna press conferences. The difference between Bill Parcells and Wade Phillips can be best illustrated by Machiavelli. He wrote that the question for a prince is whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. Parcells and Machiavelli sided with fear, but Phillips is strictly in the love camp. As in the TLC camp - not tender loving care - but trust, loyalty and common purpose. (OK, technically that's TLCP, but that blew the theme of my article and it sounds like a designer drug). Phillips even compared himself to going from a frog to a prince in this move to the Cowboys top spot. And he's a prince who would rather be loved.
Don't be fooled though, Wade Phillips is serious about his craft. He may be a player's coach, but he knows what he's doing. And he didn't shy away from telling us that either. He reeled off a list of accomplishments from his NFL career - and some of them were music to our ears. He told us that four times his teams have been in the top 10 on offense, six times he took over as either a head coach or defensive coordinator for a losing team, and six times they made the playoffs next year. The only thing that was missing was wins in the playoffs.
He talked some specifics about his 3-4 defense. They don't play a 2-gap defense, they are hitting gaps. He even described how different players would line up in different places while playing nose tackle, all to take advantage of their size and skills. He customizes his defense to take advantage of each athlete's skill-set. They slant on the defensive line more, they also use more zone blitzes. They put their defensive linemen in a position to rush the passer. He even called it the Phillips 34 at one point. He also made the point that it was different from a lot of 3-4 defenses, and some of it would be new to the players.
Still, sometimes it's hard to get past that easy going persona that is Wade Phillips. He even joked his publicist hasn't done a very good job of getting out the word about his accomplishments. Maybe he should hire Kim Etheridge - I hear she's looking for work. He went back to the family theme a few times. He wanted the players to play for something, whether it's their own family they're playing for, or the Cowboys family. He called Owens part of the family, and said he's talking about trust, loyalty and common purpose.
Now, all that TLC from Wade must've gotten to Jerry Jones, who was as interesting as Wade was at the press conference. Jerry actually got emotional a couple of times, for seemingly no reason. It was Dick Vermeil-like. After introducing Wade Phillips, he started to talk to the fans, about how much appreciation and respect he has for the task at hand and how hard he's trying to get it right. It was enlightening, because it showed how much - in detail - he cares about this team and giving us a winner. It was almost like a catharsis for him. He even turned to Wade Phillips and said "I got emotional there" as he was shaking his hand. Jerry has endured his share of slings-and-arrows; I've thrown a few barbs myself. But I almost felt bad, I mean, the guy is so desperate to give us a winner, that just talking about this new opportunity, after all he had invested in the Parcells era, was enough to make him cry - in public! OK, he didn't actually cry, but it was close, a few more seconds and he might've gushed.
Then later, when asked another question about the pressure to produce a winner, he got some welled-up eyes and a few sniffles. Jerry is feeling the pressure, he's hearing the criticisms, and I genuinely believe that he thought he was going to get it done with Parcells. But at least he really cares about getting it done. It was an interesting press conference for sure.