Monday, Jerry Jones fired Wade Phillips. A move the club should have made after the 2008 season. It will do little to help at this point and fails to address the real problem that Jones will remain the General Manager of the club.
Much to the delight of Cowboys haters across the nation, the season in which Dallas will host the Super Bowl will go down as one of the worst in the franchise’s storied history. As a child, I sat with my grandfather and watched Dallas go 1-15. Jerry Jones had just bought the team and summarily fired Tom Landry. Many fans of America’s Team hated the move. Of course, 3 Super Bowls in 4 years rightfully gave Jerry a long grace period. By the end of the 90’s, the triplets were old, the talent base had eroded and a series of Jones’ puppet coaches failed to bring the team back to glory.
Jones, frustrated with futility, relinquished much of his influence and control to Bill Parcels. Parcels filled the team with good young talent and a few trusted veterans. Of course, Jones could not stop himself from bringing in T.O. Owens had a few solid statistical years, but his arrival sealed the deal for Parcels. Parcels left for Miami, and took with him many of the ancillary players and coaching staff. Jones had a stocked cupboard of coaching talent ( ex. Sean Payton, Todd Haley, Tony Sparano) but looked outside the Parcels regime. He brought in inexperienced Dolphins QB coach Jason Garrett to head up the offense. (whenever you can go out a sign the QB coach of a 1-15 team, you have to pull the trigger) Jones then set out to find his next puppet. Jones found his Huckleberry in Wade Phillips, a respected defensive coordinator but failed in two prior head coaching stints.
Phillips’ easy going style, Jones’ ineptitude along with the insufferable offense of Garrett mixed like a frat party cocktail, and in 2010, the roofies kicked in.
Entering this season, the biggest question marks on this team were the aging offensive line, the aging inside linebackers, and the safety position. Jones stood pat with the offensive line resulting in Jon Kitna now taking snaps and no running game. Jones traded Bobby Carpenter for Alex Barron. Carpenter is not great but he played well in nickel packages and on special teams. The result: 35-year-old Keith Brooking playing every snap, Alex Barron holding onto anything within 3 feet, terrible special teams, and Carpenter playing a contributing role with the Dolphins. Jones cut the corpse of Ken Hamlin prior to the season after giving him a 39 million dollar extension 2 unproductive years earlier, leaving Dallas with no viable option on the roster. The team converted Alan Ball from corner to Safety. The result: Alan Ball plays like Roy Williams (former Dallas Safety) without the ability to hit hard. Jones elected to cut ties with established veterans such as Safety Pat Watkins and Reciver Patrick Crayton. Both served as very good special team’s players and starters as needed. The result: terrible special teams and no viable Safety candidates. You cannot make these types of moves if you fail to draft adequate replacements. Dez Bryant is the only draft pick of the last few years making any real contribution to this team.
Jones’ firing Phillips represents yet another personnel mistake. Every GM makes mistakes, but Jones has done so repeatedly for years with no repercussions. Jones brought Jason Garrett to this team, he signed Ken Hamlin to a huge deal after 1 decent season, he gave Barber a big time contract after 1 good season as a complimentary back, he traded away 1st and 3rd round picks for Roy Williams, he decided to go on the cheap and release proven vets for undrafted rookies, brought in T.O. essentially poisoning the team. This is a man who once traded 2 first round draft picks for Joey Galloway, a man who thought it wise to give Ryan Leaf another chance, and a man who made Barry Switzer a NFL head coach
The failure of this Cowboys team begins and ends with Jerry Jones. He revels in the thrill of victory, yet refuses to share in the agony of defeat. It has been 15 years since Dallas last hoisted the Lombardy and the grace period is over.