For the second time this week, the Cowboys will see a former coach on the other side of the field.
Last week, it was Mike Zimmer. Thursday, it’s Wade Phillips.
Phillips, defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, returns to AT&T Stadium for the first time since he was fired by the Cowboys in mid-season in 2010, replaced by Jason Garrett. A 1-7 start that year, following a playoff year in 2009, doomed Phillips. It appeared the team gave up on him, but that is not how Stephen Jones remembers Phillips’ time in Dallas.
“I think Wade did a lot for us,” Jones said. “The players played hard for him. I think they enjoyed playing for Wade. We had some good runs. I thought we had a couple shots there. One season, I think we were 13-3. I was convinced we maybe had the best team in the NFL that year. Obviously we didn’t get it done.”
Phillips left the Cowboys with a 34-22 record, including two playoff appearances. His 2007 team had the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs but lost its playoff opener to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The 2009 team won a wild-card round game against Philadelphia and lost a divisional playoff to Minnesota.
“He made a mark here, and the guys did play hard for him, and we did, as far as the last 15 years, had some of our better seasons under Coach Phillips,” Jones said. “It’ll be great to have him back. We still get to see him. Obviously, we have here, his son, and it’ll be good to see Wade.”
Wes Phillips joined the Cowboys as a quality control and offensive assistant in 2007, hired by his father. He stayed on after his father’s dismissal, and this year, the Cowboys named him tight ends coach.
“I think that shows that, obviously, Wes is a sharp guy,” Jones said. “He loves football, he works hard at it, he has a passion for it. He’s obviously made his mark around here. I think Jason, his staff, respect Wes, the job that he does, and obviously the players do. He’s a full-time coach who’s got his own position, not a, you know, an assistant to an assistant. I think that says a lot for Wes. I think his arrow is up, and he’s only going to get better in this league.”
-- Carlos Mendez