Down goes Phillips! Down Goes Phillips! Down Goes Phillips!
The sacking of Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips by their mercurial owner Jerry Jones proves only one thing: in the NFL, you can get away with the most egregious offenses so long as you have the word "owner" before your name. Not that firing Wade is an offense worthy of criticism. By no stretch am I defending Wade.
But since the Dallas Cowboy apologists don't seem to get it, or if they do not wish to say it aloud in the media, I'm going to say here what has been known for a long time now about America's Team: they are the play-thing of a petulant owner too inept and too proud to admit that the Cowboy's cancer is himself. Jerry Jones is the reason the team fails. Jerry Jones is the reason the Cowboys' dream season has flat lined. Jerry Jones should just go away.
Cowboy media apologists have said since 2007 that the Cowboys would represent the NFC in the Superbowl. Athlon ProSports picked them to win it all in 2007 and than went on to predict they'd win the NFC East in 2008. Lindy's Sports prediction for 2010 put the Cowboys again in 1st place in the NFC en-route to the Super Bowl. They weren't in 1st place and will not be in 1st place following any of the 17 weeks this year. So much for the broken clock theory: keep picking the Cowboys to win it all and eventually you'll be right. Jerry Jones is the reason why the Cowboy's have suffered.
Look at this gem of a stat: since 1988, when Jones bought the Cowboys and drove Tom Landry into retirement, Jerry has hired and fired 6 head coaches. That's 6 in 21 years. Only the Redskins and Raiders have had a worse track record. Jerry Jones is the problem and this is the reason why: he cares about winning as much as any owner in the NFL, but his insatiable need for attention and getting credit for success dooms the Cowboys. And before anyone says, "Well wait a minute, Jones did win 3 Super Bowls in 4 years," I reply "No, no he didn't. One very astute coach won 2 Super Bowls outright and the 3rd in spirit, though the successor got the credit." Jerry Jone is ego-maniacal.
Jimmy Johnson, the Cowboy coach who won Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII, resigned, it was because of an inability to reconcile his duties with the owner's ego. In fact, one anecdote that is very telling occurred during one NFL Draft, when Jones told Johnson to look in his direction when ESPN's cameras went live to the Dallas war room so fans and media would think that Jones had direct input in selecting players. E-G-O-M-A-N-I-A-C.
Barry Switzer inherited Johnson's winning team and won, too, but Jerry Jones said that any of 50 coaches could win a Super Bowl with that particular Dallas team, beaming pridefully at draft successes like Troy Aikman and Emmit Smith. Since that Super Bowl victory, Dallas hasn't been back anywhere close.
The New York Giants, in sharp relief to the contrary, are the very definition of stability in the front office. Owning a team isn't enough. It takes a sharp mind and a heavy dose of maturity to admit you need help running a franchise, and when Wellington Mara hired George Young as the team's first General Manger, the Giants have not had any prolonged playoff droughts. John Mara followed this same model when he hired Jerry Reese to succeed Ernie Accorsi as GM. It was Reese's 2007 draft selections that in no small part won the Giants Super Bowl XLII, and his free agent acquisitions that have contributed immensely in 2010. Tom Coughlin has been head coach since 2004, and in his seven seasons compiled the 3rd best winning record in Giants history. And he had to really work to make the pieces fit, as Michael Strahan and Antonio Pierce said.
Look at Wade Phillips: the dauphin of a coach has a very pedestrian coaching record, no stand-out post season victories, and inherited a decent team from Bill Parcells. He is NOT to be credited with turning Dallas into an above average team in 2007 and 2009, and neither is Jones. So the reason Phillips was fired, because he couldn't motivate his players and get in their face for losing, is because Phillips had to do no real work to begin with. He didn't struggle to make the pieces fit like Coughlin or Jimmy Johnson. He didn't have to sweat nights building a champion, or analyzing the draft to plug holes with core personnel. He wasn't allowed to do so, anyway, because Jones wants the credit for success. Phillips' crime as a poor coach was being too blase about coaching. No wonder his constant refrain was "I have no answers." He's the kind of guy that, like a custodian, looks after a team while the real coach is away. He has no ability to hold the fort.
In diametric opposition is the New York Giants, whose conservative, quiet owner let's his coaches coach and GM's manage without constant supervision or meddling. And it's produced a winner:
Since 2005, no team has won more game than the New York Giants, or won more playoff games in the NFC.
The "How 'Bout them Cowboys" crowd needs to move into the retirement center and chill with the "Just Win, Baby" crowd. They are, after all, so much alike.