The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Not coach's fault

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If I'm Jerry Jones (perish the thought!), I'm turning a more analytical eye to my own personnel moves than I am to ol' Wade. Wade Phillips, you see, is in charge of a defense that was pretty lights-out in the second half of the season, ranking ninth in Football Outsiders' DVOA rankings in run and pass defense through weeks 10-17 after ranking 23rd against the run and 15th against the pass in weeks 1-9. That's Wade's purview, and he's generally fielded superior defenses whenever he's had to take more control of them. The defense was the primary factor in the final two regular-season games, pitching two shutouts and then beating the tar out of Donovan McNabb and the Eagles in the wild-card round.

But the problems established with Jones in charge of football decisions have risen up once again. Jones is impossibly out of his depth as an NFL personnel man, though he believes it's the role he was meant to play. Nearly every home-grown star the team currently has on its roster came to the team in the Bill Parcells era, when Parcells was buying the groceries and using his unparalleled acumen to establish what could have been a Dallas dynasty. But as he always does, Jones couldn't wait to take the credit for the work of others, and Parcells headed to Miami because he will always have choices.

The trade for Roy Williams was classic Jones -- trading the draft picks he desperately needed to solidify other areas of his team and getting fleeced by the Matt Millen-era Lions because he was in love with the idea of Williams (a big, tall Texas receiver -- Whoo-ha!) as opposed to what Williams could actually do. The complete lack of depth along the offensive line, the real reason the Cowboys were pounded by the Vikings yesterday, is directly attributable to Jones' inability to understand the importance of the non-sexy pick or trade. Jones, like George Steinbrenner and Dan Snyder, believes that he can impose his will on the game. It will never happen -- it's just too hard to build a championship-level team. You need the best football minds working in concert to make it happen.

Phillips doesn't deserve to be fired. What he deserves is a general manager who will make sure he has better depth in several areas and a good core group going forward. Jones probably hasn't been sufficiently humbled by his latest turn in the President's chair, so it will be a couple more years before he's ready to cede control to another guy who knows the game so much better than he does. But that's the real problem with the Dallas Cowboys. Wade Phillips is a symptom. The disease and the cure both reside in the owner's box.

By Doug Farrar  |  January 18, 2010; 12:50 PM ET  | Category:  Dallas Cowboys , Doug Farrar , Jerry Jones Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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