Wade Phillips Fired? Latest News and 10 Big Questions for Cowboys Future

Adam LazarusSenior Analyst INovember 8, 2010

Wade Phillips Fired? Latest News and 10 Big Questions for Cowboys Future

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 25:  Head coach Wade Phillips of the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on October 25, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Wade Phillips Fired?

    According to the CBS affiliate in Dallas, it's true and Jason Garrett has taken over.

    Either way, that won't solve all of the woes in Big D as there are many other major questions facing the Cowboys.

    Teams don't go 1-7 with all that perceived talent just because of the head coach.

    There must be more problems across the Cowboy roster, coaching staff and the entire front office.

    Here are just a few of them.

No. 10: What's Wrong With The Running Game?

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    HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 26:  Running back Felix Jones #28 of the Dallas Cowboys rushes past defensive end Mario Williams #90 of Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Just because Felix Jones was a first round pick, and Marion Barber was a Pro Bowler in 2007 doesn't mean they should be considered elite NFL backs.

    Neither has even had a chance to produce this season. For all their failures this season, Dallas has only been blown out twice in 2010, those coming in the past two games. Jones and Barber should have had plenty of chances to run the ball this season. Yet together, they have just 144 carries. That's 18 per game.

    There may be a greater wealth of talent at wide receiver and tight end, but the fact that the running game has barley been explored suggests that either the offensive line isn't very good, Jones and Barber aren't quite as good as we once thought, or offensive coordinator and now head coach Jason Garrett just doesn't believe in balance.

    If any of those are true, it's a major problem; if they all are, there's little wonder the team is 1-7.

No. 9: Tony Romo's Return

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 31:  Injured quarterback Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys looks on from the sideline against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Cowboys Stadium on October 31, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Had Romo injured his throwing shoulder, and not his left shoulder against the Giants three weeks ago, the concern about his future would be much greater.

    As it stands, he should make a smooth recovery and not lose his ability to throw the ball in Dallas' pass-happy offense.

    But Romo will be 31 when he returns next season. He isn't quite as young as some of the talent around him and the window is starting to close on him.

    Regardless of who their coach is in 2011, the Cowboys may consider drafting a quarterback to at least replace 38-year-old Jon Kitna.

    Romo was once a young backup who took the starter's job away from an older veteran. That might happen to him down the road.

No. 8: Expensive Secondary

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    MINNEAPOLIS - OCTOBER 17:  Corner back Mike Jenkins #21 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on in disbelief after being called for pass interference in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field on October 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, M
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    The Cowboys have invested a lot in their secondary, mainly the two starting corners, Mike Jenkins and Terrence Newman. Both are former first round draft choices by the team, Jenkins in 2008, Newman in 2003.

    And although interceptions aren't a perfect measuring stick for the performance of a team's secondary, the fact that Dallas is dead last in the NFC with five INTs has to be upsetting to Jerry Jones when he cuts the team's paychecks each week. (The entire defense is also last in the NFC in total turnovers, with just 10.)

    Also, allowing 18 passing touchdowns in eight games is not the type of production Wade Phillips was hoping for.

No. 7: The Pass Rush Is A One-Man Show

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    SAN DIEGO - AUGUST 21:  Line backer DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Dallas Cowboys in action against San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on August 21, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    DeMarcus Ware is tied for third in the NFL with eight sacks this season.

    All the attention he draws from opposing offensive coordinators leads him to be double, even triple-teamed occasionally. That should open the door for his teammates to get plenty of pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, but they really have not.

    Outside linebacker Anthony Spencer has chipped in with one sack in three games, but aside from him, no one else has more than a single one.

    Former first round pick Marcus Spears has not contributed one sack this season and neither has second-year free agent pick up Igor Olshansky, who signed a four-year, $18 million contract last March.

    Inside linebackers Bradie James and Keith Brooking have added just one this season as well.

    Do they need to call Charles Haley out of retirement again?

No. 6: The Rest Of The Division Is Getting Younger, Better

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 06:  Terrell Thomas #24 of the New York Giants reacts to a play against the Dallas Cowboys on December 6, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    After a nice start to the season (which opened with a victory over Dallas) the Washington Redskins are probably out of contention in the NFC East. Still, their future is bright with a two-time Super Bowl winning coach, Mike Shanahan, at the helm.

    The Eagles and Giants, are not only the class of the 2010 NFC East, they seem to be poised for long runs of excellence.

    After this season, the Eagles will still have have two very young, very good receivers, a fantastic young running back, and possibly Michael Vick.

    The Giants are enjoying their own youth movement as well. Eli Manning is just 29, and with Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith and Mario Manningham, the Giants passing game should be potent for years.

    The Cowboys are by no means old at the skill position: Miles Austin is only 26, Roy Williams, 28, and they added Dez Bryant in the 2010 draft.

    But they really don't have an advantage over the Giants and Eagles when it comes to youth and speed at the skill position. That's a tough fact to swallow for Jerry Jones.

No. 5: Why Is Jerry Jones Still The GM?

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    HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 26:  Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones walks on the field before a football game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    During the Jerry Jones era, the Cowboys enjoyed their greatest success when Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells were the head coaches.

    Yes, they won last season under Wade Phillips, but for the most part, Bill Parcells laid the foundation. The same is true when Barry Switzer won Super Bowl XXX: that was Jimmy Johnson's team.

    It's no coincidence that Parcells and Johnson won in Dallas: They were outstanding talent evaluators as well as coaches. Their presence was able to make up for the fact that Jerry Jones was owner/president/general manager.

    In today's age of specialization, for Jones to wear all three of those hats is absurd. For years, people have talked about Jones needing to hire an actual general manager. But the Cowboys have never suffered a truly horrific season with Jones at the helm.

    Perhaps this year, with a 2 or 3-win season very possible, Jones will open his eyes.

No. 4: Jason Garrett's Fall From Grace

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 31:  (L-R) Head coach Wade Phillips and assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys looks on against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Cowboys Stadium on October 31, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Just a few years ago, Cowboys' offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was considered a lock to be an NFL head coach in the very near future.

    He chose to stay in Dallas, however, singing a huge contract (comparatively for a coordinator), and seemed to be waiting in the wings as the Cowboys future head coach.

    With the Cowboys mired in potentially their worst season since the 1-15 campaign in 1989, it's appears that Jones has tapped Garrett to be the head coach. The fact that it took this long is pretty surprising.

    Or maybe it isn't that surprising.

    Dallas' offense hasn't been that great in recent seasons. They've racked up a lot of yards, but in terms of scoring, they were 18th in 2008, 14th in 2009, and are currently 19th.

    Maybe Garrett's just not the right fit anymore for this offense, which certainly means he isn't the long-term  fit at head coach.

No. 3: How Low Can They Sink?

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 25:  Wide receiver Miles Austin #19 of the Dallas Cowboys makes a pass reception against Terrell Thomas #24 of the New York Giants at Cowboys Stadium on October 25, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Dallas' 1-7 mark is an embarrassment, especially since they were considered one of the favorites to win the NFC this season and become the first team ever to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium.

    But as bad as 1-7 is, it can still get a whole lot worse.

    The rest of their schedule includes two games with the Eagles, a trip to Indianapolis, and home games against the World Champion Saints, the resurgent Lions and a rematch with Washington, who already defeated Dallas once this year.

    Dallas might be able to win that one over the Redskins (potentially their only home win of the season) and steal a road win over the Cardinals in Week 16, but that would leave them with a 3-13 record, their worst season by far in 20 years.

    Even if that were good enough to land the first overall pick in the draft, that probably wouldn't cure all of the problems with this team.

No. 2: Roy Williams Future

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    GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 07: Roy Williams #11 of the Dallas Cowboys drops the ball in the end zone against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on November 7, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Cowboys gave up a a first, third and sixth round pick in 2008 to acquire Roy Williams from the Detroit Lions.

    Since then, Williams has given the Cowboys very little return on that investment and even less in return for the $13 million he is making per season, one of the highest salaries in the entire NFL.

    After a few good games earlier this season against Houston, Tennessee and Minnesota, Williams has just two catches for 27 yards during Dallas' current three game skid.

    Williams is not a "bad" player, but given his salary and what Dallas paid to acquire him from the Lions, he is not nearly performing enough. With Dez Bryant and Miles Austin locked up, if the Cowboys can afford to take the salary cap hit, maybe they will let him go this offseason.

No. 1: Who Replaces Phillips?

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Head coach Bill Cowher of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Alltel Stadium on September 18, 2006 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jaguars defeated the Steel
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    When relatively young Super Bowl winning coaches are out there (Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher) they are the first names that should be considered when a job opens up.

    Still, the young coordinator who receives his first shot (Rex Ryan, Mike McCarthy, Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh, Sean Peyton, etc.) are proven choices as well.

    So there is no telling where Jerry Jones will go with his choice. Jason Garrett, now the interim head coach, should have as good a chance as any. And Guys like Brian Schottenheimer, Perry Fewell and Rob Ryan will probably also be considered to become first time head coaches.

    But with a fairly veteran team that screams for more discipline, fiery temperaments like Cowher's or Gruden's might be the best fit.