To tell the truth, I was surprised that Wade Phillips was canned as the Dallas head coach earlier today.
The team had some wicked injuries to be sure, and there is no question the team is the Jerry Jones show as much as the Raiders are Al Davis' domain.
But the truth is, Wade Phillips is at best a pedestrian coach, and one no better than his father who was similarly mediocre.
I have tried to keep the schaedenfreude down a little while watching the Cowboys struggle this year. For, they do have some players I like a lot, like broken QB Tony Romo, and wide receiver Dez Bryant and especially Miles Austin. Additionally, I play in one league where individual defensive players are used and DeMarcus Ware is always among the top players in that role.
It is not like I hate the Cowboys. In fact, I am a big admirer of Tom Landry, who with Don Shula developed the zone defense while both played in the Giants secondary in the 50's. And, Landry held an advanced degree in Engineering, and when being interviewed, I once heard him say that degree "allowed him to visualize three dimensional planes interacting," which is how he designed plays.
That is some pretty cerebral stuff I can respect, and a far cry from the Phillips boys who did very little as head coaches beyond following good and successful coaches with good and successful teams. But, in the long run, they could not deliver the goods.
I had always felt this way, but when watching the Bears overtake the Dallas boys this year, it was really apparent how one-dimensional Phillips was. For the Cowboys were knocking Bears QB Jay Cutler all over the place with a furious pass rush (it is pretty well know the Bears weakness is in their offensive line). But, after a couple of drives, offensive coordinator Mike Martz adjusted to a two-step drop for Cutler, and the Cowboys never did adjust, and the Bears won.
However, if you think the Phillips men are great coaches well, consider these facts:
- Wade, as a coach, has a career mark of 82-59 which seems pretty good. But, he was 29-19 with the Bills on a team he inherited from Marv Levy after Levy retired.
- Wade was then 34-20 with Dallas, which again seems pretty good, but that was on a team with some bucks which Phillips inherited from Bill Parcells.
- Meaning both his predecessors had Super Bowls with their teams, though neither ever did deliver the prize. However, neither Phillips ever even made a Super Bowl.
- Wade's career mark outside of Dallas and Buffalo, by the way, is 19-30 so not so good when he has to rebuild and be creative.
- Bum is not much different, with a career 86-80 mark as a coach, of which he was 59-38 with the Oilers who were largely fueled by the then awesome Earl Campbell.
- But, with other teams, Phillips was 27-42, meaning like father, like son.
There is more out there (such as Wade never won a Wild Card game) but, the thing I resent most about the Phillips', and the fact that they keep getting opportunities is that they are both simply members of the old boys network.
How long did it take, for example, Lovie Smith to get a coaching job? While teams were mulling over whether guys like Smith, who are smart and also fine players had what it takes to do the job, owners were happy to hand out assignments to the Phillips', neither of whom ever even played in the NFL.
Not that one has to be a chicken to judge the quality of an omelet. But, in the case of Wade and Bum, it looks like they ate the eggs to keep the gigs for themselves.
Whatever else be said of Wade, and the hard luck of the Cowboys, he still has enough good parts in this upside down year to beat Jacksonville, and score more than seven points against the Packers.
Which all just confirms to me that neither of these guys ever had what it took to be a successful NFL coach. Save some connections and opportunity.
NOTE: Yesterday we mentioned the parity in the NFL, noting it had been a while since every team had two losses following eight weeks. Well, the last time this happened was in 1959, and at that time, there were only 12 pro teams! So, there really is some parity out there!