Cowboys talk of change, but not at top
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said Monday he doesn't feel like he's losing the support of owner/general manager Jerry Jones, despite a 1-6 overall record.
Jones hinted at organization changes following Sunday's loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Phillips might make moves as well. Phillips said lineup and assistant-coaching shakeups are possible, but he believes the Cowboys' biggest problem is that they've become a poor fundamental team since winning the NFC East title and a playoff game last season.
The biggest decision surrounds Phillips, whose job status is in a critical state.
"I don't worry about losing him," Phillips said of Jones on Monday afternoon. "I worry about losing for him. I feel bad for him because I think we should have been doing better. The guy does everything I think possible to try to win and have a winner, and he's an excellent general manager. He's gotten us good players."
I don't worry about losing him. I worry about losing for him. I feel bad for him because I think we should have been doing better.” -- Cowboys coach Wade Phillips
on owner Jerry Jones
Jones has said he doesn't want to make an in-season coaching change. He cited time restraints as a primary reason he doesn't want to make such a move.
"I'm trying to evaluate what our best chance is, not only for our team but to leave the taste in our mouths that the fans deserve," Jones said Sunday. "I'm trying to evaluate that.
"There's a lot of things you can do that would go in the category of feel-goods, although they would kill me relative to changes. It would be hard, hard for me to do."
The unsettled labor agreement, which might result in a work stoppage in 2011, and the lack of quality head-coaching candidates on staff give Jones pause regarding making a move. However, Jones said he has never been more disappointed or embarrassed by a team.
"I certainly have the ability to do things to help us change what we're doing out here, and all of that is my job," Jones said.
"We're all disappointed, period," executive vice president Stephen Jones said Monday morning.
Home fans booed the Cowboys during the loss to the Jaguars, and there were several "Let's go, Rangers" chants in reference to the baseball team playing in the World Series for the first time in franchise history. Some Cowboys fans wore brown paper bags over their heads in protest to what was happening on the field.
"Fans and media you're talking about," Phillips said Monday afternoon. "We're talking about football and what I'm doing, and I'm trying to get this team better and that's all I think about."
Phillips said the Cowboys needed to focus on improving their fundamentals. He came to this conclusion after studying all of their games this season and several from 2009.
"We're not fundamentally sound enough," Phillips said. "That's the biggest thing I noticed overall is the fundamentals -- running, blocking, tackling, catching, covering, throwing. We're not as good as we were."
Phillips, who admitted after Sunday's defeat that he was "at a loss," acknowledged that he viewed the film with a more critical eye than when he originally reviewed the games.
His plan is to get back to basics despite having only three practice days per week. Phillips intends to focus on fundamentals even if it comes at the expense of game-planning for that week's opponent.
"I think it's more going back to training camp things than it is in the middle of the season," Phillips said Monday. "Unfortunately, that's where we are. I think to go forward, that's where we have to get back to."
Phillips said he's confident that he should remain the head coach because he believes the Cowboys can get better.
While Jerry Jones has never fired a coach in-season, he has at least made decisions regarding the hiring of the next coach.
In 2002, current Cowboys secondary coach Dave Campo's last season as head coach, Jones interviewed Bill Parcells before the end of that season. Parcells eventually became the head coach before retiring from coaching after the 2006 season.
With several high-profile coaches out of the business, including Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher and Tony Dungy, rumors persist that the Cowboys might make a move.
"I'd rather stay away from that," Campo said when asked to compare his last season on the job to the current circumstances. "I don't think we're in that situation. If we're in that situation, I might have a different answer for you. I really don't think we're in that situation and we just got to make sure we worry about what's going on next week. We're playing Green Bay, and that's a big challenge for us and we got to find a way to get that done."
There is a strong possibility the Cowboys will make personnel changes. That could include demoting free safety Alan Ball, who was benched in favor of undrafted rookie Barry Church in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game, and possibly running back Marion Barber, who is already getting reduced snaps as a result of a rotation with Felix Jones.
"Obviously this wasn't our plan," Stephen Jones said. "Certainly didn't think this would happen to this team. We feel like we got good players and good characters on this team. We got guys where football means a lot to them. It's hard to explain right now. ... It's frustrating and disappointing."
Added Phillips: "The frustrating part is I think we have better players than what we're doing. Unfortunately, that reflects right on the coach."
Calvin Watkins and Tim MacMahon cover the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.