Jones hesitant to change head coach
LANDOVER, Md. -- Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones hasn't made a commitment to Wade Phillips past this season but is strongly leaning toward retaining his head coach.
"I do not want to make a coaching change," Jones said after the Cowboys clinched a playoff berth with a 17-0 victory Sunday over the Washington Redskins. "This is not the time with what we've got in place, with our personnel, with what we've got going with our schemes, with what we've got going with our staff. It's not in the best interests of the Cowboys right now to make a change."
Phillips' contract expires at the end of the season, but the team has the option to bring him back in 2010. Jones has said he'll make a decision regarding Phillips' future after the season is over, and the way the Cowboys finish will weigh strongly in the owner's mind.
The Cowboys have bounced back from their only two-game losing streak of the season with back-to-back wins to keep them in contention for the NFC East title. Phillips' defense held the New Orleans Saints' top-ranked offense to 17 points last week and posted Dallas' first shutout since 2003 against the Redskins.
"I don't want to take anything away from our players, but I think what you're seeing develop and evolve is 100 percent Wade Phillips," Jones said. "I know how hard he's working. When our defense is playing [well] and our team really realizes how much of him is involved in the defense, then it does give him huge credibility."
Phillips has a 32-16 record with the Cowboys, winning more games since the start of the 2007 season than any coach other than New England's Bill Belichick. However, he has been criticized for being too soft on his team and for the Cowboys' failures down the stretch the last two seasons.
That criticism intensified when Dallas opened December with consecutive losses. Several Cowboys, including captains Tony Romo and Jason Witten, said that Phillips' even keel played a major role in the team's response the last two weeks.
"He kept a steady hand when outside forces try and make it seem as if your team is done or doesn't have much of a chance," Romo said. "Wade does a great job of letting the team know that's not it. His demeanor, his approach, his style has worked great for this football team. He doesn't deserve any criticism. You guys [media] need to start giving him some praise, because he's been good."