Dallas Cowboys: Why Wade Phillips Needed the Boot

John KrenekContributor INovember 8, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - OCTOBER 17:  Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips looks on during the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field on October 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Cowboys 24-21.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Jerry Jones said he wasn't going to fire Wade Phillips. He preached continuity by saying, "I would never consider doing that [firing Phillips] during the season," but as of 3:46 p.m. CST, Jerry did just that: He fired Wade Phillips.

I grew up playing the second-highest classification of high school football that can be played in Texas: the 4A level. The school that I went to has never won a state title, but that doesn't mean I don't know what a competitive team looks like.

The Cowboys are not competitive. Not even at the most basic levels of football: blocking, tackling, catching and running.

When we would play or practice poorly, the film didn't lie. I'm not sure what film "Coach Jones" has been watching for the last four years, but that film surely told no lies, either.

There's a saying coaches use: "We're just going through the motions."

Translation: You're uninterested and only doing this because you have to, not because you want to.

Such has been the case for the Dallas Cowboys.

One could make the argument that the Dallas Cowboys put fourth valiant efforts in losses to Washington, Chicago, Tennessee and Minnesota. At the very least, the team lost those games because of poor coaching and lack of discipline, but those are all correctable aspects of football.

A coach can put referees on the practice field to cure the penalty bug. A coach can go back and review film from previous games and practices to find the errors in the game plan they devised.

What a coach cannot do, or at least, should not be allowed to do, is allow his team to "go through the motions."

That is why Wade Phillips got fired.

From the minute Tony Romo broke his clavicle on Monday Night Football three weeks ago, there was almost a tangible sense that the team decided at that moment to quit.

Yep, I said it. Quit.

The severance between effort and the Cowboys came most notably on the defensive side of the ball as the Giants went on to score 31 unanswered points before the Cowboys scored two meaningless touchdowns, that were merely cosmetic and only significant to those who played the over/under in Vegas.

The quit was apparent in everyone. Even veteran linebacker and noted Wade Phillips defender Keith Brooking looked like he could have cared less.

Flash-forward to the following Sunday's game against Jacksonville and the result was the same: A 35-17 shellacking by a team that many in many experts' estimation had no reason to even be on the field with Dallas—even at 1-5.

Following the Jacksonville embarrassment, Jaguars QB David Garrard even suggested that the lack of determination by the Cowboys was visible by saying, "It just looked like they weren't into the game like an NFL team should be."

The problem with that game, like so many others that Cowboys fans have witnessed this season, is that Wade Phillips allowed the players to believe their own press clippings. Which is why the result of Dallas' most humiliating loss of the season to Green Bay on Sunday Night Football should really have been no surprise.

But I digress. The little things were Wade's undoing as well.

During the "Giant Debacle" on MNF, Dallas cornerback Terrence Newman sustained a rib injury. As is protocol in assessing an injury, Newman had his shoulder pads and helmet removed. However, there was something Newman didn't remove that is also indicative of why the 'Boys have fallen so far.

The two enormous diamond studs hanging from both ear lobes.

While upon first glance, something like jewelery would seem like a non-issue, there are clearly stated rules in the NFL about players wearing such trinkets during games.

Newman must have missed the message.

Surely his position coaches told him to take the earrings off. Surely, his head coach told Newman to take the earrings off, but there they were for all the world to see.

While Newman's offense would seem arbitrary at first glance, there was a deeper meaning. Essentially, Newman was telling Wade Phillips and the rest of his staff, "I don't care."

That amount of blatant disregard for team and NFL rules should have garnered some punitive measure from the coach, but none was to be found. The very next Sunday, there was Terrence Newman and his four karats.

But there is another, perhaps more glaring example of complete disregard for Wade.

During the Tennessee game the Cowboys were issues a crucial unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the fourth quarter after scoring the tying touchdown. As a result of the penalty, the Titans promptly returned the ensuing kickoff 73 yards, setting up the game-winning touchdown.

One would think that the Cowboys had learned their lesson.

Wade Phillips vowed it wouldn't happen again.

But the very next Sunday, there was Miles Austin leap frogging Marc Colombo, and Sam Hurd giving the "Hook Em' Horns" with Roy Williams.

"Unsportsmanlike conduct, offense, No. 17, 15 yards, the penalty will be enforced on the kickoff."

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on Wade.

Such have been them perils for Jerry Jones' much maligned yes-man. So it should really come as no surprise that Jerry finally and mercifully dismissed Wade Phillips from the head boot-licking duties on Monday afternoon.

In my estimation, Wade was only part of the problem. Any Cowboy fan or observer can tell you who the real culprit is for this dismal season.

There are sure to be greener pastures for Wade Phillips now that he is no longer under the burning hot magnifying glass that is the Dallas Cowboy fan base.

Let's just hope, for the sake of Cowboy fans everywhere, that Jerry can set aside his ego and find a replacement who won't allow his team to "go through the motions."