Why the Cowboys Lose in Week 17, and the Future of Wade Phillips

Steve HartlineCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 20:  Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles rushes against the San Francisco 49ers at Lincoln Financial Field on December 20, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Cowboys do have a chance to win on Sunday, but I don’t like the matchup against the explosive Eagles.  Here is why the Eagles will win. 

  • What receiver doesn’t get double teamed? The Cowboys will play competitive football, but the secondary will allow the big plays to the likes of Celek, Jackson and Maclin at various points in the game.  The Eagles have the best receiving corps. Since McNabb first put on #5, and the Dallas secondary has allowed its fair share of big pass plays.  
  • Dallas secondary is susceptible to the big plays. In the first matchup between the two teams, Hamlin allowed passes of 17, 23 yards, Newman allowed 15, 20 yard plays, and Sensabaugh allowed a 45 yarder.  But McNabb was intercepted twice. 
  • The Eagles (rated 8th in the league against the rush), held the Cowboys to just 76 yards on 23 rushing plays earlier this season.  That averages out to just 3.3 yards/rush, well below the seasonal average of 4.8. The Cowboys will need to control the clock while scoring touchdowns in the process to keep the 3rd ranked Eagles from approaching their 28.6 points per game average.   
  • I also like Akers over Suisham in the kicking game, if it comes down to a late game field goal. 
  • The Cowboys committed 11 penalties in the first matchup. 

What do the Cowboys have to do this last game and post season in order for you to want Wade Phillips back as your head coach next season?

Just Win Baby!  If the Cowboys can make a run at the play-offs (and I don’t think a loss to the Eagles this Sunday would diminish their chances unless it’s another lopsided blow out), the Cowboys have gelled as a complete team.  The defense has come on strong, they have recommitted to the running game, and special teams seem to be shored up with the acquisition of Suisham.  Plus, the Vikings and Saints are now exposed, so the hot team has a chance to make a run, just like Arizona did last year. And if the Cowboys and Eagles matchup again, well that even more reason to hype it up.  If Wade could beat the Eagles in the play-offs, his job would be secured. If he would fail at this, he would not survive the off season.  NOTE: I have come around to wanting Wade's services to be retained basically for two reasons: 

  • One, he has a great regular season record. If he could just advance in the play-offs he would be elevated to the status of the likes of Andy Reid or Norv Turner (both get their team into and advancing through the play-offs, but neither has won a Super bowl); their respective organizations seem content with this level of success. Would Dallas? 
  • Two, a new staff would mean potentially large scale changes, and that translates to “rebuilding”. Rebuilding is just another term for “give us three years to turn this around”.  The Cowboys have the players in place now, and winning is contagious (but so is losing).