Jerry Jones included in his “state-of-the-team” address a defense of his decision to keep his coach. Without provocation, he launched into JoneSpeak about how Wade was the right man for the job and how he would bring things to the table that no one else could.
Jones’ feeling that he had to defend why he kept his coach is pretty telling. It almost seems as if he is trying to answer the voices in his own head. I don’t doubt that some of the reporters in the audience may well have hurled that fastball at his noggin had he not addressed it, but when a speaker feels the need to defend a decision before it is questioned, it certainly raises a red flag.
I am one who believes that Phillips is ill-suited to lead an NFL team as the head man. I believe that he is the kind of coach whose team would have to thrive in spite of his influence, rather than because of it. I will get to a few reasons why I believe this in a moment.
First, I want to get to three reasons I believe Jerry believes Wade is the right man for this job:
- Jimmy Johnson. Jerry’s experience with Jimmy informs his every decision regarding the position of Dallas Cowboys’ head coach. Jerry felt he and Jimmy had built the great team of the early nineties together…and he wanted to share the credit for that accomplishment. Jimmy, selfish bastard that he is, was sure it was all him and that he only needed Jerry to provide him the platform and the checkbook. Jimmy was a glory-hound. Jerry doesn’t want to walk the Jimmy Johnson road ever again.
- Bill Parcells. Parcells was a desperation hire. Jones saw his prized franchise sinking into such a quagmire of mediocrity that something radical had to be done. So, he brought in the football savant, the man who turned around every franchise he ever touched. But Jones underestimated just how dour and surly Parcells could be. Jones is an optimist, a wildcatter, a risk-taker, while Parcells is a calculating, analytical, self-assured (and self-promoting) bona fide football genius. Word around Cowboys headquarters was that Jones was just plain miserable with Parcells. Parcells is more subtle about it, but like Jimmy, he is a glory-hound. He is also a control freak (remember his “buy the groceries” quote). Trouble with that is, Jerry likes to be in control.
- Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher, and Mike Holmgren. Jerry looks at the trio he ought to have interviewed and chosen from and thinks, “No thanks. Been there. Done that.” Here are three men with proven track records and Super Bowl hardware, but they are strong-willed men. They are leaders. Jerry cannot have that! He has to be the leader…even if it means he settles for a man who has never led a single team to a single playoff victory as a head coach. At least this man is happy to let Jones be THE MAN.
OK, so Jerry keeps Wade and that is that. Like it or lump it. We cannot do a thing to change it. Besides, is Wade really such a bad choice? Yes, he is! Here is why…
- Wade Phillips is an excuse-maker. Listen to his news conferences after any random loss. He will offer this excuse or that. Maybe it was a hurt player. Maybe it was a ball taking a bad bounce. Maybe his wife didn’t starch his shorts just right and they chapped his butt. Who knows?
- Wade Phillips is a stat-spouter. He will take solace in stats whenever his team loses. He will talk about how many yards his team gained or how stingy his defense was. It has forever been the case that winners point to the scoreboard while the losers scramble for the stat book.
- Wade Phillips is too easily impressed. Remember a couple years ago when he made the statement about how his team made the final eight? Um, excuse us, Wade,but this is not the NCAA Tourney and you are not coaching George Mason University. This is the NFL, buddy. This is the Dallas Cowboys.
It is preseason – training camp time – and hope springs…well, maybe not eternal, but at least until late September, early October. I am hopeful that Jerry and Wade will prove me wrong. I would love that. I would love to see this Cowboys team have a breakout season. Most of all, I would love to see them end the thirteen-year playoff victory drought, which is unprecedented in franchise history.
I hope for it. I want it. I just don’t believe it is likely to happen. Not on Wade’s watch.