Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips has been fired, and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has been promoted to the head coach position. The initial reports were first confirmed by the CBS-TV affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth. In his 3½ years as the Cowboys' head coach, Phillips amassed a 34-22 regular-season record, and a 1-2 mark in the postseason with a team built by Bill Parcells. The tipping point in a horrible 1-7 season was the "Sunday Night Football" game against the Green Bay Packers.
It was one of the worst defeats in Dallas Cowboys franchise history -- a 45-7 Sunday night loss at Lambeau Field in which the score didn't really indicate how lopsided the game was. The Pack outgained the ‘Boys by more than a 2-1 ratio (415 to 205 net yards), had 71 offensive plays to Dallas' 48, and converted 67 percent of their third downs to 40 percent for Dallas.
The difference in rushing yards was the real embarrassment -- once again, Dallas' prized backfield was an afterthought, as the Cowboys gained just 39 yards on the ground. That was in part a result of how far ahead the Packers were early, but it's been a problem all season. More and more, people are looking at offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, the alleged future star and next Dallas head coach, and wondering why he can't get a consistent running game going with Marion Barber(notes), Felix Jones
(notes) and Tashard Choice
(notes) in his
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Among those wondering what has gone wrong on a team with so many positive preseason projections, count owner Jerry Jones right at the top of the list. After the Packers embarrassment, Jones was as vocal as he's been about a situation that has steadily declined since Week 1. From ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth:
"There are a lot of people here who are certainly going to suffer and suffer consequences," Jones said."I'm talking about within the team -- players, coaches who have got careers. This is certainly a setback. I know firsthand what it is to have high expectations. I think unquestionably that our expectations were thinking we're something we were not, possibly looking at what might be relative to a Super Bowl. All of those things have certainly contributed early.
"But we have so many things that we need to correct and address, as this game so vividly exposed and previous games have. I've got a lot of work to do, got a lot of decisions to make. And it's not just one, two, three or four. There are several decisions. I think everybody in this country would agree that there's a lot wrong with this team that we've got to address, and I'm certainly the one to address it."
Phillips is just the fall guy here. The fact that Jones is doing the work is the common denominator to every part of his ownership in which his team has suffered disappointments. When he steps aside, keeps his considerable ego in check and lets people like Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells build his teams, things tend to go very well. But as it is with his inner Steinbrenner, Jones can't help but tinker with, and take credit for, the work of others. Yes-men like Phillips and ex-head coach Dave Campo are little more than doorstops. Garrett will likely fit that same profile, given half a season to prove himself with a lame-duck team and an offense he already has trouble running.
"I can't put my finger on it because I don't have enough fingers," Jones concluded. The quote was an attempt at humor, but there's some hidden insight there as well. Jones and his son Stephen are not currently capable of assembling an NFL team. Their last two drafts have been horrible, the Roy Williams trade is still hurting the team, and the current administration sends too much time and money on flash positions. This is a team with $30 million in guaranteed money for 2010 invested in its top three receivers, but little semblance of an offensive line. Inside linebackers Keith Brooking(notes) and
Bradie James(notes) are getting abused in coverage, but second-round pick Sean Lee
(notes), who excelled in
coverage at Penn State, can't seem to see the field even after he has recovered from early injuries.
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The Cowboys face the New York Giants next Sunday at the new Meadowlands. Phillips' only quote about the upcoming possible disaster to a team that beat the Seattle Seahawks, 41-7 on Sunday, was that he wasn't aware of who the team was playing next -- he was focused on the current game. Phillips is a fine defensive coordinator who is completely and totally out of his element as a head coach. It's been proven before, and it's the case now.
The equation is simple, but Jones has to want to see it. Phillips did not survive the week, and Garrett's prospects have dimmed severely in the last two seasons. These guys are incidental, and the next guys Jones hires under the current structure will be equally incidental. Until Jerry Jones allows someone with a more qualified hand to take control of his team, he can hire and fire 100 different coaches, and it won't mean a single thing.