Thursday, February 08, 2007

musical chairs: filling Parcells' bro.

If ESPN is to be believed (please see the end of the post for an update on that), Wade Phillips will ink as the new Cowboys coach, denying the rest of us haters plenty of jokes on reserve about Norv Turner; for Cowboys fans, you may actually have a very good shot at doing better next year, as the problem in the Seattle game was not so much your offense, but the defense's utter failure at holding an injury-laden Seahawk team from the end zone. Wade will fill the defensive void well, as well as Parcells' physical presence (read: manboobs.)

On the surface, Phillips makes more sense as a hire than Chicago D-coordinator Ron Rivera -- Rivera would have gone from a 3-4 to a 4-3, requiring some new expenditures on players to revamp a system. However, I remember Phillips' two years as coach of the Broncos in '93 and '94, when he succeeded Dan Reeves, and then proceeded to underachieve for two prime Elway seasons (EDIT: he made the playoffs one year, but has gone 0-3 overall in post-season). Pat Bowlen then went and ushered in the Era of the Rat by hiring Mike Shanahan.

Phillips has the bad tendency
(or luck) of replacing members of the upper echelon of NFL coaching ranks (Reeves, Marv Levy in Buffalo, now Parcells in Dallas), and while he made the playoffs in Buffalo, he managed to fuck up a quarterback situation spectacularly with Rob Johnson and Doug Flutie in 1999. For those who don't remember, Phillips benched Flutie for the '99 playoffs after a 10-5 record for Johnson (a member of the Network of Forgotten Signal Callers), and was karmically bitch-slapped by the Titans' Music City Miracle.

That plus the somewhat lackluster O for his Denver tenure (couldn't get Elway a running game to save his life) should give you a touch of pause when considering the development of Tony Romo, which is likely one of Jones' highest priorities. This is the problem with Phillips-led teams, and it reflects the coach -- great focus on defense, bad at either keeping his hands off of the offense or hiring people to run it properly. If he is the placeholder coach for a couple years while Jason Garrett is groomed, so be it, but Jerry Jones has hired the defensive version of Norv, in a sense, and put his quarterback's future in a defensive-minded coach and an inexperienced offensive coordinator.

Media Note Update, 9:15 AM: D-Wil says in comments and on Sports on My Mind that the Dallas Morning News was first on this and that ESPN pulled another jack. The AP is giving credit to the DMN and the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram prior to ESPN, if order in an article is anything. The Big Lead has noted the WWL's tendency to claim being first with breakers when they're not, like the Iverson trade.


D-Wil said...

Leave it to ESPN to steal another source's breaking news. This was first reported by Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News.

Signal to Noise said...

D-Wil: the AP's giving the DMN first credit...hmmm.

Hasn't Mortensen pulled this before? Not shocking, if true, and I remember the Big Lead noting how Aldredge got jacked when he broke the AI trade, I believe.

The Almighty Ajax said...

Damn, that's decidedly mixed news. On the bright side, he's not stealing Ron Rivera from us. On the other hand, he's not taking Wade Wilson off our hands either.

(I'm a proponent of the theory that Wade Wilson's not doing a good enough job as Chicago's QBs coach and some fresh blood is needed to speed up Rex Grossman's development.)

I know it's probably almost unheard of for a positional coach to leapfrog to head coach, but I also know he's tight with Jerry Jones, and JJ can be unpredictable like that.

C'mon, Jerry! There's still time! Sign the other Wade!

Business or Leisure? said...

WHY?! What did NORV! do? We can make this right. We can restore order to this thing yet! Letter writing campaign for NORV! Who's in?


Ah hell.

In any event, isn't Wade Phillips really just "cancer for the cure" anyway? ^--(c) EELS

DCThrowback said...

It's quite easy and flippant to say that Phillips "fudged up" the Bills QB situation back in 1999 without first looking at the impetus and history of Doug Flutie's tenure at starting QB. Recall back in the 1998-99 playoffs when the Bills played at Miami when a clearly tired Flutie had 5 turnovers in a 24-17 loss against Miami (he was sacked and fumbled on the Miami 5 that game in the Bills' final possession - furthermore, that was the game Moulds had about 2,000 yards receiving). I know and have read the football outsiders piece also telling us that it was the most spectacularly stupid coaching move ever to replace Flutie, since he was so good and Johnson would be so bad (especially later in his career).
So, I realize I am the one standing athrwart history yelling, "Stop!". That being said, Flutie had a history of wearing down late in seasons. He was unreliable, despite the leading the Bills to the playoffs after starting 0-3 (the play of the defense had a lot more to do with it, IMHO). Finally, people forget the beating Johnson took in the game vs. the Titans - John Fina was playing on a broken foot or something like that and Kearse was using him as a human turnstyle. RJ still led the Bills to a 16-15 lead on a Christie FG with just :03 seconds remaining.

While the last :03 seconds of that game have been systematically erased from my memory (and the ensuing cries and evidence that it was clearly a forward pass sucked out of the vacuum hole - by the MAN!), RJ's performance that day was not. He was gutty, showed a lot of heart and almost led the team to a huge upset against a Super Bowl runner up while playing on the road. The fact his team fell short was not his fault - and to this day I will defend WP's decision to start him over Flutie, despite the evidence and the inevitability the other side has in its arsenal.

On his decision to pick him over Flutie permanently...well, let the record show I think both QBs stink with Flutie being way overrated ("he just wins!" and a jerk teammate to boot) and Johnson lacking any sort of idea on how to throw a ball away while getting relentlessly pummelled. It's fitting that both QBs are now mentioned in the Bills lexicon as has beens in the list of Hoberts, Collinses and Buffalo fans await the arrival of another Jim Kelly to save us from the ashheap of history.

NFL Adam said...

I'm with you. But as I said this morning, if you couldn't handle the Midget and Shane Falco, how is he going to handle Terrell Owens?

Signal to Noise said...

dcthrowback - Very good defense of the decision. Hopefully J.P. Losman decides to either step up big or tank soon so you can have a shot at a QB prospect come draft time. Long-suffering Bills fans deserve nothing less.

Business - somehow I think Norv will survive. There will be other stupid owners with head coaching jobs available next year.

extrapolater said...

This is the first time I've ever seen a blog within a blog. Nice complete thoughts, there, dcthrowback.

I also wrote about this today, by rating Wade Phillips on how he would be able to deal with T.O., but I was way, waaaay too slow about it.

Brian said...

Thanks, DC Throwback. As a Bills lifer who remembers that game like it was yesterday, I came in ready to make the exact same argument. To this day, I think Phillips made the right decision starting Johnson.