Thursday, February 08, 2007

Jerry Jones May Have Gotten It Right This Time

We took a poll on our website, asking our viewers who they felt was the best candidate Jerry Jones interviewed. 48% wanted 49ers offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Only 20% wanted Wade Phillips. That's not a strong endorsement. It's also an interesting reflection of how football fans view "Bum's" kid. But is it a fair endorsement? I don't think so.

I have a strong belief that some coaches can be the best offensive or defensive coordinator in the league, but just aren't cut out to be a head coach. I think Norv Turner (winning record in only 4 of 9 head coaching seasons) falls into that list with the likes of Dave Campo, Buddy Ryan, Ray Rhodes, Marty Mornhinweg, Bruce Coslet, Dick Jauron and Lindy Infante. I don't think Wade Phillips belongs on this list.

Jerry Jones brought up an interesting statistic that I had never heard before, but found very interesting. Jerry said, the last six times Wade Phillips has taken over a team as head coach or defensive coordinator, that team has made it to the playoffs in the first year.

I actually looked this up. Jerry was technically right. Take a look:

2004: D-Coordinator San Diego (12-4)
2002: D-Coordinator Atlanta (9-6-1)
1998: Head Coach Buffalo (10-6)
1995: D-Coordinator Buffalo (10-6)
1993: Head Coach Denver (9-7)
1989: Denver (11-5)

I say technically right because Phillips took over as interim head coach of the Falcons in 2003. They finished 5-11 that year. The Falcons did go 11-5 in 2004 after he left. I don't think Jerry was counting "interim" years.

The point he was making, though, is that in each case, the team got better as the result of his arrival. In the six years Jerry is talking about, Phillips teams won a total of 21 more games then the year before. That's an average of 3.5 games better each time. If that holds true, the Cowboys will be at least 12-4 next year!

In his five full seasons as a head coach, he only had one losing season. His 1994 Broncos were 7-9. His 2000 Bills were 8-8 (technically that's not a losing season). Otherwise, he coached teams to 9-7, 10-6 and 11-5 seasons. That's not bad. The only knock against him I can see is that fact that he is 0-3 in the playoffs. His '93 Broncos got blown out 42-24 by the Raiders, but his '98 Bills lost a close one to the Dolphins (24-17), and his '99 Bills were robbed by the "Music City Miracle" in the Titans 22-16 win on the last second kickoff return.

Assuming Phillips can streamline the Cowboys defense, and Tony Romo can rebound from his playoff field goal debacle, the Cowboys look to be in very good shape.

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