Hello, Anyone Home?

Who is running the Cowboys offense this week out in the bubble? Don't you get the feeling you could stick your head in the door at Valley Ranch and call out to anyone only be answered by an echo? Is anyone there?

Now it's announced the Boys will enjoy Friday, Saturday AND Sunday off. Wow, things must be in impeccable shape out The Ranch way. They're sure sending the "our house is in order" message to the worrisome fandom. Maybe it's Bobby "Don't Worry, Be Happy" McFarrin calling the shots out there.

The Cowboys Nation is about to find out everything they need to know about Wade Phillips. Hopefully, he's in the process of earning every penny that Jerry Jones is paying him. Some people will tell you they love pressure situations and wearing multiple hats. In many cases its right before crisis management kicks in and a leadership meltdown ensues. How will the good ol' boy coach weather the strongest of fandom and media gusts? Was he the hire capable of taking this team to both a conference championship game and Super Bowl?

Wade, Jerry better not see you sweat, so a stop off to Kroger for some Old Spice, super absorbent, on the way home might be in order. So the question becomes can Wade Phillips play the "big room?" That venue was Parcells' dream and desire, and he couldn't get the job done. A New Jersey, tough guy who endured everything the New York and Boston medias could throw his way, yet he stumbled in both playoff appearances while navigating the Cowboys. It was one, done and off to Saratoga.

It seems unfair to Coach Phillips, but the only post season record to hang a hat on is a lifetime 0-3. Let's make this perfectly clear….0-4 WILL NOT fly here. Harsh? Darn straight, but it could even get you fired. It's almost laughable to hear the masses say you can't dismiss a 13-3 coach. Since when? At last check, Jerry Jones still owned this team, and he has some major expectations for this club. As impressive as 13-3 was, it only netted an invitation to the post season party.

Do NFL players have rallying cries? Will they get behind a particular cause or issue? Can they see past their egos, wallets and press clippings? Are the leaders capable of shouldering an initiative and bringing it to conclusion?

This team owes Wade Phillips. He deserves everything they've got.

Wade Phillips' arrival in Dallas cut the Parcells' ties and loosened the Big Bill shackles which apparently prevented everyone from doing their jobs. You could hear the collective sigh of relief and stress-free exhale from Valley Ranch. "Surprise, I'm here." If nothing more, Wade has provided an atmosphere and working environment which banished the New Jersey whip and subsequent mind games. Now it's time to perform. Make a list. Check it twice. Make sure the details have been scrutinized prior to stepping on the field of play. Preparation is the key. The hecklers are already perched in their seats. Their tickets were purchased in hopes of seeing the train wreck unfold right before their very eyes. Nay Sayers haven. They even volunteered to replace the light bulbs which will illuminate the Texas Stadium stage. When the spotlight shines on the headliner, they want it bright and intense. Such is life as it pertains to the Dallas Cowboys.

How resilient will the Cowboys be at maintaining their focus? Will they be fully prepared to meet their opponent in 10 days? Can they effectively block out the distractions and periphery issues? The League really needs to address the consideration/interviewing process for playoff teams' coaches. The system is broke, highly unfair to the post season participants, and it's a story for another day. Can a defensive-minded coach properly oversee an injury-riddled, production depleted offense while his OL/Asst Head Coach and the Offensive Coordinator are out auditioning for jobs? Can the nice guy exterior kick enough tails to make sure precise execution and attention to detail amount to a playoff victory?

His introductory words were, "It's good to be back in Texas." Come 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 13th, its hoped Wade and Laurie Phillips feel the same way as the Coach's opening statement indicated. Phillips has been known to say something that later needs to be reflected on for clarification purposes.

Over the course of the 16-game season, a lot has been made of what Wade Phillips has and has not said, but none more analyzed than the statements following the Cowboys regular season loss to the Washington Redskins. This past Monday's press conference clearly exemplified the pressures of playoff football. The media was determined, and Phillips was testy. Then comes this nugget following Wednesday's full pad practice. Phillips intimated the Cowboys were in pads because "our fundamentals have been down." Certainly not the most enlightening words sixteen game in, wouldn't you agree? Fine-tuning game plans and supplementing the playbook are acceptable, but admitting "fundamentals" are down is frightening; discouraging at best. Lack of fundamentals will get you beat almost every day of the week.

No playoff wins in 10+ years will have the masses a little restless, especially if the "complete" package/arsenal may be unwrapped as soon as the Cowboys' season draws to a close. Jeff Ireland yesterday. Jason Garrett and Tony Sparano could be holding boarding passes in the departure line. Lord only knows who possibly follows this talent base out the door. The time to win is right now! If everyone wants to celebrate under the current atmosphere, while the gang's all here, they better take care of business right now. The so-called Winds of Change are gaining momentum out on that not-too-distant horizon.

Wade Phillips has taken the stage, flack and blame for this team. It's assumed this shouldering of responsibility is appreciated throughout the player ranks, but the only way to truly provide thanks is by putting forth the best possible effort. Nothing less. The effort, in turn, must generate a win. The Cowboys owe themselves and Wade Phillips that much. Too much has been accomplished and sacrificed to come this far and bow out early. You can't waste efforts like this because they come along all too frequently. Phillips will encounter every possible element facing a head coach over the next 10 days; a doubting media, a worried fan base, a recuperating football team, a staff considering the next career stop, and an owner looking to return his team to its rightful place of prominence while completely fulfilling his "the stars are in alignment" year.

Hey Wade, no pressure there. You were right in saying the 13-3 record accounts for something and the whole year needs to be looked at in totality, but the reality is none of that matters in the eyes of many. Fairly or unfairly, everything will be measured and evaluated a week from Sunday. Just be darn sure that team is ready to get after it. Your presence has allowed this to be a much more enjoyable season, and it would be nice to see the trend continue.

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