Monday, July 23, 2007
Wading in the Tuna's Stagnant Pond
Wade Phillips has coached quite capably throughout his career. Many attribute this to the talent he inherited at past stops, but Phillips has done nothing to suggest incompetence as an instructor, coordinator, and leader of men. There is an odd trend in his past; for every one of these positions, Phillips succeeded a great, or even legendary coach. The list contains such luminaries as his father Bum Phillips, Dan Reeves, and Marv Levy. Recently, it came to include some guy named Bill Parcells.
What is it that makes this situation different from the others? In all of the aforementioned cases, Phillips was taking over a proven group of players from his predecessor, taking with that group the expectations of the franchise and its followers. His career record (48-39) stands as a testament to his collective performance at all of these stops. His playoff record of 0-3 is not as worrisome as most would label it; Phillips never coached a truly great team, and coaches who break .500 in the playoffs don't often get away from their teams, much less get relegated to coordinator roles, no matter how prominent the franchise.
The dissimiliraty comes down to one thing: This is a fit.
Jerry Jones took his time in making this decision. This Isn't customary of the colorful owner, whose love for publicity has landed his team in trouble in the past. But in this case, Jones opted for the best decision possible to ensure the ressurection of the winning tradition in Big D. He passed over local legend Norv Turner and such hot named as Ron Rivera and Mike Singletary. Some label Phillips as 'boring', 'generic', 'vanilla'. But he's exactly what the doctor ordered.
The Cowboy offense was stellar last year. For a unit that hasn't added an internal first rounder since bloody DAVID LAFLEUR, they were downright amazing. But obviously converse to the allergic reaction to offensive playmakers is the fact that the Cowboys have allocated tremendous assets toward building a dominant defensive unit. The effect has been underwhelming, to say the least. The players seem to be there at every position on the board, but when game time approaches things simply fall apart. The man supposed to lead the unit, Roy Williams, looks like an idiot on every passing play. Bonus babies like Bradie James are publicly criticized by the quarterbacks of 3-13 teams for 'not having a clue'. First rounders like Marcus Spears and Bobby Carpenter are either horribly underutilized or playing far below their level of ability. Phillips comes from a system with players remarkably similar, as has been pointed out enough times for even the most casual sports fan in Chatanooga to catch on to.
Phillips didn't get a proper opportunity with the Saints. He was clearly a temp in Denver, despite coaching there for two years. He got his chance in Buffalo and fulfilled expectations.
However, it was not a suit personally fitted for his tastes by Armani himself. Defensively, a better match for Phillips' specialties could not be found. A large portion of this team's success will depend on Jason Garrett's ability to lead the offense and Tony Romo's ability to take his instruction to heart. Phillips, however, will fix what was in a state of tragic disrepair during last season.
No more lethargy, no more complacency. No more predictable bliztes, stationary linebackers, and scared safeties. If Phillips has his way, and the players seem intent on taking his tutelage to heart, the defense with 2 additions throughout an entire offseason will see drastic change this year.
If things go as planned, the outcome will be different. The outcome will be exciting. And the outcome will be success.