Wade Phillips recently got fired after the Dallas Cowboys’ disastrous 1-7 start to the 2010 season, giving way to Jason Garrett as the team’s interim head coach. Phillips’ firing was fully deserved, but he was in no way the biggest problem the Cowboys faced this season, have faced in the past, and will face in the future.
But unfortunately for the team and their fans, their biggest problem won’t be going away anytime soon. Unless, of course, Jerry Jones fires himself.
Like Al Davis in Oakland and Danny Snyder in Washington, owners having anything above minimal involvement in actually building the roster usually goes terribly wrong.
Jones gets a lot of credit for helping to build the Cowboys’ dynasty of the 1990’s, but Jimmy Johnson was the brains behind that entire team. He even had enough left over for the woefully inept Barry Switzer to win a Super Bowl. That was all Johnson — not Jones.
Phillips is simply not a head coach. He’s shown that before. He’s far too laid back, doesn’t have enough knowledge of the offense, and isn’t a great motivator. What essentially happened is he became the defensive coordinator and let Garrett run the offense almost unchecked. So what the team lacked was a head coach. Each unit had the guy they looked to, but the team as a whole didn’t have a guy they felt was a true leader.
But again, a lot of that was on Jones.
Other than Jones, Davis, or Synder, who actually goes out and hires an assistant coach before a head coach? Jones has proven his football acumen is average at best, but even someone who’s never watched the game could probably figure out that hiring Garrett before Phillips was a dreadful idea.
Head coaches want to have their guys. Garrett was not Phillips’ guy. He was Jones’ guy. So when the defensive coordinator wasn’t getting the job done, Phillips fired him because that was a guy he had control over. But when Garrett likely would have gotten the boot — and deservedly so — Phillips’ hands were tired because there was no way Jones would allow it.
So even though Phillips was not a qualified head coach, the blame doesn’t rest on his shoulders. Vince Lombardi, Hank Stram, Chuck Noll, Don Shula, or even Tom Landry (you know, the guy Jones fired) couldn’t have been successful with an owner who has an overinflated view of himself.