Wade Phillips' firing was the top news this afternoon. We all knew it would happen. The Cowboys have not played up to their potential this season and that fault lies at the feet of the head coach.
The players had stopped playing for him. It was clear that the Cowboys had given up on themselves, the coach, and the fans. A change was imminent. Dallas now promotes Jason Garrett to the head coach position.
The Cowboys have a ton of talent and their issues are mostly in the minds of the players. With a GM making some of the moves that have caused this, it will be difficult for Garrett to change things immediately. Here are 10 ways that the new head coach can turn this thing around in time for next season.
After last night's embarrassing performance by the Cowboys, owner and GM Jerry Jones spoke about consequences. This is the initial impact that firing a head coach midseason will cause.
It was quite evident for the past couple of weeks that a change was necessary in Dallas. The players have been playing uninspired ball. Once members of the organization, from coaches to players, realize that there are real consequences for underachieving, real change can be attained.
Jason Garrett may have already been coaching the Cowboys as an assistant, but his promotion gives the organization a new face on the sidelines. For eight games now, Dallas fans have had to look at Wade Phillips for answers. The same goes for the players.
When the game starts to get away from them, he has been the first person they look to. Now instead of a blank stare or a defeated gaze, the players have a youthful Garrett who will attempt to lead in a new manner. There may be hope on the sidelines in the form of a new face.
The 2010 Dallas Cowboys were headed to the Super Bowl this season. That is all anyone knew. The players and staff understood that this was a very talented team that was destined for great things. They new the destination they just did not have a flight plan to get there.
Bringing in a new head coach leads to a new direction being paved. Whether it is the right path is meaningless. At this point, the Cowboys will settle for any direction really.
The Wade Phillips years are marked as an era of players doing what they wanted to do. Terrell Owens was able to run his mouth. Adam Jones was allowed to play after getting into an off the field altercation and players frequently partied instead of concentrating on the task at hand.
In order to change the Cowboys future, Garrett must institute accountability. The Cowboys are deep. At this point in the season, you play the players that are willing to lay it on the line regardless of wins and losses. If you institute accountability now, your 2011 season will run that much smoother.
While Wade Phillips was at the helm, the players had two coaches to listen to. Phillips may have had the title as head coach but it was clear he was in place to groom Jason Garrett. That insinuation killed the player-coach chemistry.
Wade Phillips was largely a lame duck for the past season. Players knew that their head coach was on his way out and may have already been separated by two alternate messages. Having a new coach with a potential new staff gives the organization one voice to listen to.
Last night, Wade Phillips mentioned that his now former team lost the ability to execute the basics. It is a cliche for a reason. When things go awry, you need to go back to square one.
Last night's game epitomized the lack of dedication to doing the little things. Blocks were missed at every turn, passes were dropped, routes were lackadaisically run, and the defense forgot how to tackle. Garrett has his hands full in teaching this team how to play football again.
The Cowboys issues are many. What is blatantly clear is that they do not play defense. Jason Garrett has the rest of this season and the draft to fill the giant holes on that side of the ball. Losing Tony Romo was a huge blow to the season. What has exacerbated the problem is the fact that they cannot stop teams from scoring at will.
A good portion of this is a lack of effort. Some of that may be alleviated with a coaching change. But just as the Cowboys have young talent on offense, they need to commit resources to the other side of the ball.
Just as defense has been a tactical liability, so has the offensive line. The Cowboys have great receivers that would love the opportunity to catch some balls. The line is not giving the offense a chance to run effectively.
Tony Romo has already been lost for the season on bad pass rush blocking. Now a geriatric Jon Kitna is too busy fleeing defensive lineman to be accurate. Something must be done to shore up the line going forward.
Wade Phillips touched upon this last night. The Packers ran the same screen pass last night that they did the week before. It was just as effective. It is clear that there is a disconnect during the week leading up to game time. The players are not getting the message of what must be done to win.
It is clear that the Cowboys have not been prepared lately. Whether it is the coach's fault for not looking at game footage or the players for not heeding tactical advice, something must be done differently. Garret needs to get this underachieving team on track every week.
This is the most vital attribute that Jason Garrett has going into his first game as head coach. The organization has been made aware that nobody is safe from the axe. The Cowboys must show results immediately.
Under Wade Phillips the Cowboys stopped trying. It seemed like the team was certain the season ended for them a couple of weeks back. That is no way for an NFL team to play. Garrett has to provide a spark for this flailing team. He needs to take the mentality that they are reeling into oblivion and turn it into a fire to improve.