Despite 30 wins in 3 years, Wade Phillips' return to Cowboys still iffy

Dec 3 2009 - 6:43pm

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(The Associated Press) Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips (left) reacts as he talks with wide receivers coach Ray Sherman (right) in the first half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders on Thursday in Texas.
(The Associated Press) Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips (left) reacts as he talks with wide receivers coach Ray Sherman (right) in the first half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders on Thursday in Texas.
IRVING -- Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips sounded as monotone as usual Wednesday, but he made clear his underlying sense of frustration.

Phillips is 30-14 in his two-plus seasons with the Cowboys, including an 0-1 playoff record. Only the Indianapolis Colts (36-9), New England Patriots (36-10) New York Giants (32-16), and Pittsburgh Steelers (31-16) have won more games since the start of the 2007 season, including the postseason.

Yet, because he is in the final year of his contract, Phillips' future in Dallas is cloudy.

"I don't know how many (coaches) have won 30 games the last three years, and we've still got five games left," Phillips said. "That's just the way it is. But I don't worry about that. I've told you that before. I'm not worried about that. I'm not talking about that. That's of no consequence."

The Cowboys own an option on Phillips' contract for 2010, and owner Jerry Jones has been noncommittal on Phillips' future most of the season. But Jones hinted Wednesday that a good finish by the Cowboys would increase the likelihood of Phillips' return for next year.

"I don't know that it's any more so for Wade than it is for anybody else on this team," Jones said before Wednesday's practice at Cowboys Stadium. "...What we do here and how we get into these playoffs and get in with an advantage, have a game here, get a bye, all of those are things that look good for Wade."

The future is now for Phillips, who is 78-56 overall as a head coach in Denver (16-17), Buffalo (29-21) and Dallas and interim jobs in New Orleans (1-3) and Atlanta (2-1).

Phillips has the Cowboys (8-3) in first place atop the NFC East, but the Cowboys are 3-6 in December and January under Phillips, including a playoff loss to the Giants to end the 2007 season.

The Cowboys' five remaining opponents have a combined 35-20 record. Only the Washington Redskins (3-8), whom the Cowboys play on the road Dec. 27, have a losing record.

"I don't know what the determining factor is," Phillips said when asked if a good finish could ensure his return. "I've never known what the determining factor is. I didn't know when I was at Buffalo, and was 29-19 there (in the regular season) through three years, that I was going to get fired. I thought I did a heck of a job there. All I do is try to do the best I can as a coach. I work hard at that. I don't think I get a lot of respect for that, but that's the way it goes."

Phillips was asked why he doesn't get the respect he feels he deserves.

"I don't know," Phillips said. "I've won 75 games as a head coach so far in eight years (not counting the interim jobs). That's not bad compared to a lot of other people. Now I understand the playoffs and so forth. I understand all that. But I think -- I think, it's my opinion -- that winning breeds winning, and if you're a winner, you're going to come out fine, whether it's the regular season or playoffs. Sooner or later, if you learn how to coach and win games, then you're going to do well. I'm confident we're going to do that."

Phillips pointed out that it took Bill Belichick getting a second chance in New England after going 37-45 in five seasons in Cleveland before he was considered a winner. Phillips then was asked if he believes things will work out for him with the Cowboys.

"Sure. Sure," Phillips said. "Like I said, we're going to win. How many we're going to win?

"I enjoy it, because it's such a tough league to win. I've gone a long time without many losing seasons. I enjoy it a lot more that way."

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