Commentary

Jones dismisses doubts over Phillips

Updated: October 29, 2009, 12:05 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Dallas Cowboys' three victories this season are against pitiful teams.

The last win occurred in cold and windy Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday afternoon. It was ugly, but the Cowboys will take a 26-20 overtime victory over the Chiefs, because they needed it badly.

The Cowboys (3-2) want to be considered an elite team but don't play like one. Against the Chiefs, Dallas was called for five offsides penalties and dropped four passes -- two in the end zone. They called two timeouts in the first quarter, and 10 points were surrendered as a result of turnovers.

You can't beat teams that way, especially elite teams in the NFL.

Miles Austin, who set a franchise record for receiving yards in a game with 250, dropped two passes in the end zone. His two touchdown receptions were the result of his ability to break tackles.

Good teams don't let Austin break free. Well, elite teams.

At some point, will the subpar play catch up to the Cowboys?

"Yes, and no," defensive end Igor Olshansky said. "I'd say no, because first, a win's a win. But it does if we don't put teams away. Then we're going to play [elite teams], and when it's time to go to the [playoffs] … that's when it's going to nick us in the butt."

If the Cowboys had lost this game, owner and general manager Jerry Jones would have been questioned about keeping Wade Phillips as coach.

On Jones' weekly radio show, he said a loss to the Chiefs wouldn't have put Phillips' job in danger. He repeated his stance Sunday before heading to the airport.

Jones was emphatic in reiterating that he would not have fired Phillips had the Cowboys lost. "I'm not going to do that. First of all, I don't have to."

Yes, Jones doesn't have to fire Phillips. In some ways, Jones has no choice.

Dave Campo is the only man on the staff with head coaching experience. Campo, the secondary coach, has been a head coach before but had three consecutive 5-11 seasons with the Cowboys.

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who has gone on a few job interviews for head coaching positions the past two seasons, would be a favorite son. Yet his offense is so inconsistent, it's hard to make him the leader in the clubhouse.

So Jones is stuck with Phillips and watching this team trudge along as the Giants and Eagles mow down teams. The Vikings, another team moving toward elite status, are doing the same.

"We ought to look at that, like on the face of it and say we're not playing as well as those teams apparently are," Jones said. "We aren't, but I think we have a team that is going up in many key places."

Jones mentioned that quarterback Tony Romo played his best game since Week 1. Romo threw for 351 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions Sunday. The running game is staying strong. Tashard Choice rushed for 92 yards on just eight carries in a backup role.

Then there was Austin, filling in for the injured Roy Williams (bruised ribs) and averaging 25 yards on 10 catches.

Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware had two sacks, his first takedowns of the season. Keith Brooking continues to play well with 11 tackles (two for a loss), one sack and four quarterback hits.

Jay Ratliff blocked a field-goal try in the fourth quarter and is headed toward another Pro Bowl appearance.

The Cowboys will take wins like this against teams that are a combined 1-13 this season.

"Most important thing was winning the ballgame," Phillips said. "We came together more as a team there than any different kind of victory. You learn who is going to come through and who is going to make plays, and all the guys did in this ballgame."

Calvin Watkins covers the Dallas Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail him at calvin.watkins@espn3.com

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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