After seeing Super Bowl hopes fizzle into a 9-7 season that wasn't good enough to make the playoffs, team owner Jerry Jones has vowed to bring back Phillips, and Phillips vowed Monday to do things differently.
"We know things must improve. The only way is to change things," Phillips said. "To get to the standard we want, I don't see another way."
Phillips said he and Jones already "talked man to man" about what went wrong and what needs to be done about it. All he's decided so far is that he needs a plan; he's only started putting it together. However, he said both coordinators will be back and he expects all the star players to return.
Considering his laid-back demeanor and reputation as a players' coach, Phillips seems to be saying he plans to get tough. However, he'll be 62 when training camp starts and going into his 33rd season in the NFL, so it remains to be seen whether someone so established can become a different kind of leader.
"My personality is not going to change so much as what you ask players to do," he said.
Here's a change: Phillips did not address the team Monday, sending them into the offseason wondering what's going to happen next. They met with position coaches, cleaned out their lockers, tied up other loose ends and were free to go - much to the chagrin of linebacker Bradie James, a defensive team captain.
"I don't want to just end this thing and be in the dark," James said.
Told what Phillips said, James smiled and added, "If you know a person to be a certain way and then all of a sudden you have an extreme change, I don't know how well that's going to be taken. I don't know what he means by that. Like I said, he didn't address us, so I don't know. ... Whatever needs to be done, I'm all for it."
Here's something that hasn't changed: soap opera side stories.
James spoke to reporters only to clear up information about an incident he'd just gotten into with a fan who was standing outside the driveway into team headquarters wearing a sandwich board that read "Our team has no heart" on the front, and "Wade is an embarrassment to the star."
James tore the sign off the man, breaking his sunglasses. James then went to his locker, got a pair of expensive shades he'd been given and returned with an apology, a handshake and a gift. Police came and left without taking any action.
"He was like, 'Why you guys didn't have that fire last night!' You should've showed that much heart last night!' So the next thing you know I'm just ripping that sign off of him," James said. "So I went and gift-wrapped some Oakleys, and he got something out of the deal. I told him, 'I share your frustrations. But where we differ is I wouldn't go to anybody's job, especially not up here with 300-pound guys, trying to tell them what they didn't do right."'
Phillips to Change?
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