It appears clear that Phillips and running mate, Jerry Angelo, have emerged as the clear-cut leaders for better or worse.
Angelo has final say over all personnel matters including the 53-man roster, trades and claiming players off the waiver wire. However Angelo has given Lovie Smith the control over his assistants.
"I'm not going to force a head coach to make a hire and I'm not going to force a head coach to terminate an assistant," Angelo said. "Will I bring up things about coaches just like I bring up things about players? Yes. Again, because it's my job to do that. It's not my personality, it's my job."
Although Angelo and Smith have a relationship dating back to their days at Tampa Bay, that didn't play into the decision according to Angelo. While the fact that they know one another should only help the relationship, it's not good to have "yes men" in the organization and differing opinions are beneficial to the decision making process.
"It's not a perfect world. Lovie and I are going to have our moments, so to speak. That's just part of the game," Angelo said. "We make many, many decisions, we're emotional sometimes when we make them, the key is we have to stay out of the manholes. I don't mind the speed bump every now and then, but we've got to stay out of the manholes. We can't make dumb decisions, stupid decisions. That's what I have to make sure we do not do in all areas of our organization."
Smith believes that the relationship between coach and GM is no different to what he expects to have with his assistants.
"I just see it as a team," Smith said. "Just like when we get coordinators in here, I'm going to be the head football coach, but we're going to talk about the different things that we're going to do offensively and defensively. I have no problem with the structure that we have setup here. I really feel good about the structure and the chain of command that we have setup here."
"I'm the general manager I have to make sure of the whole health of our organization, players, coaches and anything that I see that might be detrimental to that, I have to do my job and I have I talked to coaches about that, yes, I have. If you were an owner you would want me to do that. But nothing in a confrontational way, in an adversarial way, that's not my style, but I am going to confront when I feel that it needs to be. But I don't want anyone to come out of here taking this that it's about a control freak. That is crap. That's just crap."
The fact that Smith wasn't the first choice on Angelo's list is still a topic of debate, but a chance is all Smith ever wanted.
"Tony (Dungy) waited a long time to become head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers," Smith said. "Steve Spurrier, Jimmy Johnson, a lot of guys went through (the interview process before Dungy got the job). I think the key thing and important thing is that you just get in a position. I think things eventually workout the way that they should. This was just a process of me becoming head coach here today."