No More Speculation

IRVING, Tex. - In a move that surprised exactly nobody, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones fired head coach Wade Phillips Monday, just one day after watching his team get dismantled, 45-7, by the Green Bay Packers, a game that dropped the Cowboys to 1-7.

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was named interim head coach, and defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni was tabbed to fill Phillips's role as defensive coordinator.

On a normal day at the team's practice facility in Valley Ranch, the media fills its allotted parking spaces, with 10-20 more parked in the street. With the news that Phillips had been let go, more than 70 cars and eight television trucks lined the street … and that was just auxiliary media parking. Passers-by would be forgiven for thinking Elvis had made an appearance.

"An in-season coaching change is something I have not done before, and was reluctant to consider even as late as last week," Jones said. "We needed to change. As late as Saturday night, I hadn't made this decision, but (after Sunday's loss) I realized we weren't playing winning football.

Jones said several times that he likes Phillips personally, and said nothing of their conversation in which Jones delivered the news, other than to say "I visited with him personally, of course."

Jones called upon Garrett to "change the culture" around the team, and said he also met with the players to share his expectations for them, which centered around discovering which players were willing to work the hardest and wanted to win the most. He said the last team's focus over the last eight games of the season will be winning games, but also called the second half of the season an "evaluation period."

When the media converged at Valley Ranch to learn the details of the move Monday, Phillips was there, stopping in on the Cowboys locker room. When approached by the media for comment, Phillips sidestepped commenting on much of anything, saying only that he was there "to check on some of the injured players."

Later in the afternoon, the team released a statement on Phillips's behalf:

"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. "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."

Jones declined to answer when asked if he had considered anyone — either on the coaching staff, or an external candidate — before deciding to promote Garrett.

"I've seen some very good things he (Garrett) has done," Jones said. "He has been a coordinator (during) the highest three production seasons in the history of this franchise.

"He's got some qualities of leadership, he's very smart. Those are things that aren't necessarily different, but how they manifest themselves might be. He has the abilities to get us where we want to go."

Valley Ranch was slammed today as the media bombarded Cowboys' headquarters upon learning the news of the firing of Wade Phillips.

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