Phillips laments general lack of respect
IRVING -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Wednesday that if his team performs well, Wade Phillips' future as head coach becomes secure. Phillips, when told of those statements, spoke of a general lack of respect for his overall record.
The Cowboys face the New York Giants in an important NFC East game Sunday that could decide several things about the team's present and future.
Jones said if Phillips can get his team through this difficult December stretch with a solid playoff seeding, it will enhance the likelihood of the coach's return in 2010.
"I don't know that it's any more so for Wade than it is for anybody else on this team," Jones said of the pressure on his coach prior to Cowboys practice Wednesday. "You're in coaching and then there's a lot of pressure to win, so that's there. But what we do here and how we get into these playoffs and get in with an advantage -- have a game here, get a bye -- all of those are things that look good for Wade."
Phillips said the only thing he can control about his future is if his team performs well. In the next five weeks, the Cowboys face two division leaders, have three division opponents and play three road games.
"That's up to someone else. It isn't up to me," Phillips said about his future. "The parts that are up to me, that I can do something about, is do as well as I can [and] try and win as many games as I can.
"We've won some games here. I don't know if people realize that, but we've won quite a few games here and hopefully we can win some more. That's where we are."
Phillips has a 30-14 record in his three seasons as Cowboys head coach, and he has a 78-56 career mark over eight seasons. Yet, Phillips is 0-4 in the postseason and has won only one division title with the Cowboys.
All I do is try to do the best I can as a coach. I work hard at that. And I don't think I get a lot of respect for that, but that's the way it goes.” -- Cowboys coach Wade Phillips
"You want to go on records. I don't know what the determining factor is," he said. "I've never known that. I didn't know when I was in Buffalo, and we were 29-19 there in three years, that I was going to get fired. I thought I did a heck of a job.
"All I do is try to do the best I can as a coach. I work hard at that. And I don't think I get a lot of respect for that, but that's the way it goes."
When asked why, Phillips said: "I don't know. I've won  games as a head coach so far in eight years. That's not bad compared to a lot of other people."
His playoff failures and the inability to win late in the season -- Phillips is 13-16 in December/January as a head coach during his career -- hurt his reputation somewhat.
"Now, I understand the playoffs and so forth. I understand all that," Phillips said. "I think that winning breeds winning. If you're a winner, then you're going to come out fine whether it's regular season or playoffs. Sooner or later, if you learn to coach and win games, you're going to do well. And I'm confident we're going to do that."
Phillips wasn't angry or defiant when he talked to reporters for about 10 minutes after a news conference. He was relaxed and even wondered how many coaches have won 30 games and had their job status questioned.
The Cowboys have, it seems, a coach-in-waiting in offensive coordinator/assistant head coach Jason Garrett. He's interviewed for head coaching jobs the past two seasons, and he turned down the Baltimore position two years ago.
Jones said Garrett has one year left on his contract, but it's Phillips' future that is uncertain.
"I'm not worried about that," Phillips said. "I'm not. I'm not talking about that. That's of no consequence."
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.