Cowboys fire Wade Phillips
UPDATED (9:14 p.m.)...
The Dallas Cowboys fired Wade Phillips as their coach Monday, a day after a 45-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers dropped their record to 1-7.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones announced during a news conference at the team's training facility that he was elevating offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to head coach and promoting defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni to defensive coordinator. Jones said both appointments were made on an interim basis.
"An in-season coaching change is something that I have not done before," Jones said. "It's something that I was reluctant to even consider as late as this past week. But at this time, I believe what's in the best interests of the organization and the fans is a coaching change."
Phillips became the first NFL head coach to be fired this season.
"I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the fans of the Cowboys and to the entire Jones family for all of the support that we received here in Dallas," Phillips said in a written statement released through the Cowboys. "I would also like to thank our coaches and players for their loyalty and dedication.
"I told the team today that I have been proud to be a part of their family, and that will never change. I have enjoyed the privilege and responsibility of representing this franchise as its head coach.
"I am disappointed in the results of this season to this point, but I am also very proud of what our team and our players accomplished in the previous three years. In good times and difficult times, our players stuck together and never lost hold of their belief in each other and the strong team bond that they have shared. Family and coaching football have always defined my life and I will always be grateful for my experiences here with the Dallas Cowboys."
The season began with the Cowboys hoping to play in the Super Bowl that they are to host in February at their second-year stadium in Arlington, Tex.
Instead, they have been one of the league's worst teams and are playing without injured quarterback Tony Romo.
"I think anybody involved in this organization, really from the top down, is disappointed with our season so far and how we got here," Garrett said at a news conference. "Having said that, we're all excited about what we're going to do going forward. This is about going forward. We have to put the first eight games of the season behind us. We need to learn from them and we need to go forward."
All of the previous coaching changes made by Jones, who purchased the Cowboys in 1989, came during the offseason. Until Sunday, Jones had been adamant in his public comments that he was not contemplating a coaching switch during this season, either.
"I did change my mind," Jones said Monday. "I want you to know that I changed my mind from as late as Saturday. I don't like the way that looks stability-wise as far as our organization is concerned--not my own self, but the organization. But I think it [the situation] called for it, and I recognized after the game that we just weren't playing winning football and our best chance was to make this change. Now, with that, I don't apologize to anybody about changing my mind."
After the Green Bay game, Jones told reporters that there would be "consequences" for the Cowboys' poor performance.
"I think there are a lot of people here that certainly are going to suffer and suffer the consequences," Jones said late Sunday, according to the Dallas Morning News. "I'm talking within the team, players, coaches. They've got careers and this is certainly a setback. I know first-hand what it is to have high expectations. I think that unquestionably our expectations were thinking we were something we weren't.... But again, we have so many things that we need to correct and address as this game so vividly exposed and previous games have.
"So I've got a lot of work to do, a lot of decisions to make and it's not just one, two, three or four. There are several decisions. I think everybody in this country would agree there's a lot wrong with this team. We've got to address them and certainly I'm the one to address them."
The Cowboys are on a five-game losing streak.
Phillips was in his fourth season with the Cowboys and had a regular season record of 34-22 as their coach. The Cowboys were 1-2 in the postseason under Phillips.
The Cowboys won the NFC East in two of the previous three seasons. They beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of last season's playoffs for the franchise's first postseason triumph since December 1996, but suffered a 31-point defeat to the Minnesota Vikings in a conference semifinal.
This season began with great expectations for the Cowboys, but they were undone in large part by their own mistakes. They lost their season opener to the Washington Redskins after committing a turnover that led to a Redskins' touchdown on the final play of the first half and having an apparent game-winning touchdown nullified by a holding penalty on the game's final play.
Things got worse when Romo suffered a fractured left clavicle during a 41-35 loss to the New York Giants last month. The Cowboys have lost two more games with backup Jon Kitna starting at quarterback and, according to the Morning News, Phillips said at his postgame news conference Sunday night in Green Bay that "we looked like a bad team, with bad coaching. That's the way we played."
The Cowboys are winless this season in four games at home. They are ranked 10th in the league in total offense. But their defense, until now overseen by Phillips, is ranked 17th in the league overall. The Cowboys are ranked 31st in the NFL in scoring defense.
Jones said he told Cowboys players that they should not consider the coaching change "an admission of defeat or finality" for the season.
But he said the Cowboys "also clearly understand we are not where we want to be at this time, and that's an understatement. We also share the responsibility in that, all of us."
Garrett will be given a chance to retain the head coaching job beyond this season, Jones said.
"I do believe that Jason has the temperament, he has the disposition to effect a culture change," Jones said. "I think this is important."
The Cowboys play the Giants, the NFC East leaders, on Sunday at the Meadowlands. It will be the NFL head coaching debut for Garrett, once the Cowboys' backup quarterback behind Troy Aikman.
Garrett was considered a rising star in the NFL coaching ranks when the Cowboys hired him away from the Miami Dolphins in 2007, then signed him to a $3 million-a-year contract extension in January 2008 to keep Garrett with the team after he interviewed for head coaching vacancies in Baltimore and Atlanta.
"All I can do is be who I am in this role," Garrett said. "... What we're going to try to do is restore that tradition that this organization has had for so long, 50 years."
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