Many of us, including this blog, have called for the dismissal of head coach Wade Phillips. We did so because the Dallas Cowboys haven’t won a playoff game under his guidance and they are struggling to even secure a wildcard this year.
But is it really the best solution? I don’t think I picked the right Wade, folks.
If there is one thing we know, Wade Phillips can sure coach a defense. Ever since he took over the defense after embarrassing losses to the St. Louis Rams and New York Giants, the Cowboys defense have improved each week, culminating in an incredible performance Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For that alone, Phillips might be the most valuable coach on the Dallas Cowboys.
But he’s not Jerry Jones’ flame. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is.
The Dallas Cowboys offense is struggling to produce against both poor defensive teams and great ones. Although the Cowboys amassed the most yards against the Steelers of any team, more than half came from rookie running back Tashard Choice. Jason Garrett and Tony Romo are not communicating well. The play calling is predictable. As the game comes to the final quarter, opposing teams seem to know what the Cowboys are going to do, especially if they are trailing.
Case in point was Sunday, when Tony Romo threw a game-ending interception. Tight end Jason Witten was the target of the pass, and he took the blame for running a bad route. Romo also took blame for throwing a pass to a receiver who wasn’t yet in the route. But it doesn’t matter because the Steelers defense predicted that play. In fact, they predicted Witten would be the chief target in that two-minute drive. If you watch the replay, there were several defenders near Witten when the pass was thrown. If he was there to catch the pass, he would have been hit pretty hard and may not have even caught it.
Terrell Owens was on man-to-man coverage. He was open. Romo never looked his way. He eyed Witten the entire time. Jason Garrett called a pass play to Jason Witten, and Romo was going to throw the ball whether he was open or not.
How predictable has the Dallas Cowboys offense become, and whose fault is it? Jason Garrett became one of the hottest potential NFL head coaches after helping the Cowboys attain a 13-3 record and developing one of the most powerful offenses in Cowboys history. Romo threw a lot of touchdowns for a lot of yards and Witten had a career year. The Cowboys, who lost the first game in the playoffs, were quickly catapulted to the “team to beat” in 2008-09.
That meant teams studied that offense. Some coaches who are good at reading plays probably picked that offense apart, and it showed.
How can so much change in a year? It seems the numbers Romo has put up so far this year are deceiving at best.
It’s inconceivable that Jason Garrett cannot create plays that would get the ball to two of the best wide receivers in the game. Roy Williams hasn’t had much of an opportunity to excel. Terrell Owens has numbers of a No. 2 receiver on most teams. Patrick Crayton hasn’t been involved much. Although Tony Romo had three consecutive games of throwing for more than 300 yards, they were against bad teams that had mediocre defenses.
Has Jason Garrett earned the respect Jerry Jones gave him this offseason by making him the highest-paid coordinator in the NFL? Has his stock risen this year? It probably has.
The Cowboys could not hurt from having some consistency at coaching. Jason Garrett is young and he’s relative wet under the ear at running an offense. Somehow, he helped produce a record-shattering offense last year. The offense is not horrible this year. The problem just comes down to play selection and training Romo to have a wandering eye. Too much faith has been rested with Romo because of his improvisational skills, and he’s not being coached enough.
Which gets me to the position I want to take: Fire Wade Wilson. Wilson’s job is to coach the quarterbacks and many would think he’s done well with Tony Romo, who is in his third year as a starter. But has he really? Was last year an anomaly? Is Romo being trained on how to truly find the open receiver without having to dash blitzing cornerbacks and linebackers?
The Landry Hat calls for the firing of Wade Wilson effective today.