Spoiled Rotten

As the Band out of Boston professes, "It's been such a long time." It has, and these days the natives are more than restless. So much that the owner is reduced to tears as he unveils the sixth head coach during his tenure; the seventh in franchise history.

For a proud organization which measures its successes by hardware found in trophy cases, the drought is starting to take its toll. The Dallas Cowboys have come to a monumental fork in the road, and they're scrambling (some say reaching) for indicators and answers. Why so much pressure, you ask?

Consider the lineage:

Meredith. Staubach. Aikman. Romo?

Perkins. Dorsett. Smith. Barber?

Hayes. Pearson. Irvin. Crayton?

Landry. Johnson. Parcells. Phillips?

Murchison. Bright. Jones?

Fan expectations soar in these parts and rightfully so. There is a responsibility of heritage and legacy at every turn, yet something doesn't feel quite right when considering the names (fittingly accompanied by question marks) above. They don't seem to fit the mold of those who have gone before. This generation is supposed to pack the same wallop, denote stature and be destined for Canton. Seriously, do you see bust or bust hood in the names followed by the question marks? Do any of them have what it takes to be the next cornerstone in the franchise's illustrious history? Right or wrong, it's reality and anything falling short is simply unacceptable.

The one depicter of the Wade Phillips' hiring resonating throughout the Cowboys Nation is "underwhelming." Both unfortunate and understood in the same breath. Quite simply, Wade Phillips, through 30 years of NFL toil, deserves better. Much better. However, this is the Dallas Cowboys, and the head coach is supposed to be Cary Grant, Paul Newman, George Clooney, Elvis, John Wooden and Bono all rolled into one. It was shortly after organizational infancy the expectations bar was set in the upper stratosphere, and no doubt, it will remain so for decades to come.


Absolutely. To accept anything less is simply a disgrace to the revered blue star. It's high time the current crop of players realized just what it takes to keep the shine and luster on this symbol of excellence. Unless there is an immediate remedy, this team will continue to swim in the deep end, mired in mediocrity. Moving forward, will the Wade Phillips hiring have any bearing on which path is traveled? Only time will tell, but this much is a given.

He's not Parcells. Thank goodness. By all accounts, during the introductory press conference, the native Texan appears to be human, engaging, confident and somewhat humorous. How refreshing is that? Regardless of which side of the hire you're on, a genuine Texas breeze has replaced the stale, pungent, New Jersey stench which infiltrated Valley Ranch. While it's nice to have the "boots back in Texas," those dust kickers won't be around long if next year's results don't produce a playoff victory or two. Make no mistake about it, Phillips is afforded no grace period or honeymoon. Wade Phillips or Norv Turner, it didn't matter, the hire was about right here, right now. There is no reclamation or rebuilding project on the table. This dog must hunt, and not only hunt, but deliver limits.

In case you didn't hear it, the gauntlet was thrown smack dab in the middle of the Valley Ranch press room. It being laid by none other than the Owner and General Manager himself. Did Wade Phillips feel the tug of the leash when Jerry proudly announced each season following a Phillips' hire equated to a playoff appearance? He denied stated 2007 expectations later in the session, but the mandate has been established. If the Cowboys don't get to the NFC playoffs next year, Wade Phillips may set the franchise record for shortest tenure of a head coach.

Think not?

There's a theory Norv Turner was the not the organizational choice because Jerry would have been highly reluctant to dismiss a friend, and championship contributor, in a moments notice. Jerry, through thanks and loyalty, could not have done Norv wrong. He didn't want that possibility on his watch or conscience. Like it or not, there is admiration in the move, but if Wade Phillips, you must know you're expendable. The lure of Bill Cowher or Jeff Fisher looms large in the back of Jerry's championship mind. Mr. Phillips, welcome to Dallas, but realize you're on a very slippery slope. A repeat of 2006 or a dreaded step backwards could have you in the unemployment line come 2008. Wade Phillips is a better man than most. The cards aren't necessarily stacked against him, but the challenges are enormous.

A 3-4 which lacks punch but has a ton of Judy. A strong safety who can "bone jar" with the best of them but turns liability in coverage. A free for all at free safety. Abundant questions along the offensive line. A second round mystery at tight end. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Underwood under center. The greenest of saplings stepping in at offensive coordinator. And if all that isn't enough to keep Phillips up at night, a self-absorbed volcanic wide receiver who doubles as the Venus de Milo. Hell, what's not to like about this job? Ten interviewees, one lucky star and nine collective sighs of relief. Wade Phillips may have been a bit premature in denoting amphibian to royalty. If you don't win, it's frog to tadpole in an Amarillo wind.

Let the games begin.

It'll be most interesting to see the coaching staff take shape. Bank on 30 years of NFL experience counting for something. Coaches will flock to work for Phillips, and knowing this, the San Diego Chargers have already shut the door on Valley Ranch requests. Suffice it to say, if you haven't heard of a particular coach coming to the Ranch, it doesn't matter. As long as Phillips knows who it is, bring him on. Phillips indicated his cell phone lit up like a Christmas tree when being considered for the job. Half the calls were reporters looking for scoop, but the other half were job seekers. There should be no shortage of candidates to consider. Good thing, too, as it's going to take a bevy of bodies and brains to dry Jerry's eyes.

Jerry Jones is not happy. He just spent $20 million for a four year upgrade in talent and a stroll down memory lane. The return on investment netted zero in the hardware department, but there was an abundance of heartaches and hardships. Renouncing New Jersey embezzlement, Jerry pointed out the last two true Texans to man the helm enjoyed historical success. Hey Wade, no pressure there. Jerry is banking on a personality which will persevere through adversity not one that tucks itself in a fetal position and hibernates in December. The lasting image of this ball club, culminating with a symbolic mishandled snap, is squandered opportunity. The whole 2006 season came to rest on the Qwest surface, and the forged image must be dispensed with quickly.

Wade Phillips, you're in charge of burial rights. Throw some soil on that box known as the last four years and bring some hope to a teetering franchise. It's reached breakpoint levels, the anguish and disappointment written all over Jerry Jones' face as the tears rolled. Say what you will about Jerry Jones, because everyone does, but the man is passionate about his football team. Winning matters. He wants a champion walking through the doors of his new Arlington Taj Mahal. Jerry Jones wants to be on top of the NFL world heading into 2009. He wants what you want. Bragging rights. Satisfaction. Envy. Yes, Wade Phillips, the pressure is yours by mere osmosis. You hold the keys to the billion dollar vehicle parked directly at the apex of the fork in the road.

The last time a Cowboys' Head Coach drove a vehicle for Apex (shoe apparel); he was headed to a sought-after destination. As he picked up players along the way, he asked them where they were headed. Do you recall the stopping point?

The place? Super Bowl. The Coach's response? Get in. So Wade, where you headed Podner?

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