Phillips' Firing Comes As Cowboys' Dreams Dashed
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Fast-food chains may have found a winning strategy for themselves; the Dallas Cowboys are struggling to find one. The team has now fired its head coach eight games into a losing season. NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.
WADE GOODWYN: This was going to be the year, the first time in NFL history that one of the teams in the Super Bowl got to play the game at home. In this case, the $1.2 billion stadium Cowboy fans call Jerry's World.
It was all planned out here in Dallas. Tony Romo would hit tight end Jason Whitten in the end zone for a touchdown; rookie sensation Dez Bryant would scamper 68 yards on a punt return to glory; and linebacker DeMarcus Ware would flatten the opposing quarterback like a pancake as the Cowboys triumphed in Super Bowl 45. That was a Cowboys dream; this is owner Jerry Jones' reality.�
Mr. JERRY JONES (Owner, Dallas Cowboys): A decision has been made to move forward with a new person in the head-coaching position with the Dallas Cowboys. Jason Garrett has been named interim head coach, and he will replace Wade Phillips - effective immediately.�
GOODWYN: In the first eight games this year, the Cowboys have served up one of the most putrid seasons in franchise history. Quarterback Tony Romo is now out with a broken clavicle. That happened on Monday Night Football, when a blitzing Giants linebacker crushed Romo while the clueless Cowboys stood watching.
Even before Romo got hurt, the Cowboys couldn't score. They can't run the ball and, as Romo's unhappy fate demonstrates, Cowboy quarterbacks who drop back to pass take their lives in their own hands.
Keith Whitmire is a reporter with Fox Sports Southwest, and covers the team.
Mr. KEITH WHITMIRE (Reporter, Fox Sports Southwest): The offensive line got old quick. It was a veteran line. They thought they could get one more year out of this line, and it didn't happen. They can't run block, and they can't give their quarterbacks enough time for the receivers to get open.
GOODWYN: As it slowly became clear the offense couldn't score points, the defense's morale began to suffer. Over the last three games, they've given up 41 points, 35 points - and Sunday night got beat 45 to 7 by the Green Bay Packers.
This is the first time a Cowboy head coach has ever been fired midseason. In the locker room, the players were chagrined. Phillips was a popular coach who treated his players with respect.
Six-foot-four, 300-pound defensive tackle Jay Ratliff.
Mr. JAY RATLIFF (Defensive Tackle): I mean, can't lie - I'm down, man. It's killing me; eats me up inside. Can't really sleep, you know, feel, you know; sick to my stomach to think about it. But only thing I know to do is just keep on fighting. That's what I'm going to do.
GOODWYN: He'll be doing it now for Jason Garrett, the young offensive coordinator now the interim head coach of the one-and-seven Dallas Cowboys.
Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas.