Odds are that you have been fired from some type of job in your life. Maybe it wasn't an actual job, maybe it was being fired from a group in school. The point is that most people know what it's like to be relieved from our duties. Wade Phillips was relieved from his duties as Dallas Cowboys Head Coach in 2010, and he detailed part of the fallout there in his new book Son of Bum: Lessons My Dad Taught Me About Football and Life.
Jerry is really personable. I mean, you've got to like Jerry Jones. If you're around him, you've got to like him, unless you hate the Dallas Cowboys, which some people do. But as a person, he's likeable. He's fun to be around. His whole family is working with the team.
Before we begin it's important to note that Wade Phillips learned a thing or two from Jerry Jones during the time that they worked together. How do we know this? On the day of his book release Wade Phillips' publisher allowed Deadspin to publish an excerpt from said book detailing the what-seems-to-be rocky relationship between Wade and Jerry. Well done, Coach Cupcake.
Is there salt in cupcakes? I don't bake, so I don't know. Either way, Coach Cupcake apparently has a lot of it stemming from the 2010 season that ultimately led to his demise in Dallas. In this excerpt Wade Phillips begins by showering Jerry Jones with love and affection, noting that he's a do-whatever-it-takes-to-win type of owner and that he enjoyed that about Jerry.
Then this whole thing gets silly, and kind of dramatic. Wade Phillips details how he asked Jerry Jones for a new contract entering the 2010 season, and that Jerry wouldn't budge (Wade also says Jerry had "plenty" of money to spend so hey, what the heck Jerry?!).
"With one year left on my contract, I had my agent ask Jerry for an extension on my deal. It seemed like things were good, but they weren’t. Or at least, they weren’t good enough. The year before, when we went 9–7, the press wanted to fire me. Now here I was, with a 33–15 record and a playoff win in three seasons, and coming off an 11–5 year. I thought I’d get Jerry to extend my contract beyond the 2010 season. But he wouldn’t."
Wade also then mentions the apparent elephant in his room - Jason Garrett. After an impressive inaugural season with the Cowboys in 2007... Jason Garrett was a hot commodity. Wade mentions the Baltimore Ravens as a team that wanted him to be their Head Coach, but the Atlanta Falcons were interested as well. Jerry Jones, of course, elected to pay Jason Garrett and keep him around the Cowboys.
So apparently Wade Phillips was completely fine with this for all of 2008 and 2009, but entering 2010 suddenly developed a "well this isn't right!" feeling about Red Ball. Wade is at this point in an extremely anti-Jason Garrett mood so he takes another dig at Garrett concerning the 2008 Dallas Cowboys.
"After our 9–7 season, when the offense struggled, Jerry said that maybe he should have let Jason take the Baltimore job rather than give him the big raise."
Ah yes, Wade! The 2008 Dallas Cowboys offense that struggled! For what it's worth the Dallas Cowboys Offense ranked 13th in terms of total offensive yards in 2008, few would call that "struggling" but hey facts or whatever, and a huge part of the dip was that Tony Romo missed three games (the first he missed of his career... sad face).
Alright let's get back to logic here. Wade Phillips goes on to say that he was in fact given more money before 2010 began in the form of an extension. Then he flies off the rails again in spectacular fashion.
"'This is just for if you murdered somebody, or something like that, you wouldn’t get the bonus,' Jerry said. 'And it’s our option to pick up that extra year.'
'Well, then that’s not giving me another year if it’s your option,' I said.
I took the deal, although I still didn’t think it was right. Jerry can do what he wants to do as owner, obviously. I just didn’t think it was right that an assistant coach was making more than a head coach. He could have paid me more. He had plenty of money. Still does. But he’s a businessman and his business side made that decision."
So Wade Phillips - in full consciousness - took a deal... but he hated it! Man if only I could count the number of times I've signed a contract that I didn't at all think was right. That sure is something that a lot of people experience and do wisely.
Also can we talk about the whole "Jerry has plenty of money!" thing? This is what people say every time any sort of contract comes up that we roll our eyes to. "Jerry can pay anything! He has all the money in the world!". Ok Wade, sure man. Let's completely abandon the logical structure in which the NFL works. Cool.
This is when the best part of Wade Phillips' excerpt is on display. He takes us back to the 2010 season opener and recounts the decision to try and score before the first half ended. Let me remind you that this is a man petitioning us on why he shouldn't have been fired.
"We began the 2010 season on a bad note with a 13–7 division loss to Washington. We didn’t allow a touchdown on defense. We shouldn’t have allowed the Redskins’ defense to get one either, but right before the half, Jason asked me, “You want us to go for a score or just run the half out?”
'Yeah, okay,' I said."
"Yeah, okay."?! Are you serious right now, Wade? You're trying to sell me that Jason Garrett was somehow bad at his job, but in a moment of paramount importance when he asked you what you wanted to do... you said "Yeah, okay."?!
As you'll likely remember that sequence didn't end well for the Cowboys. After a holding penalty Jason Garrett called a pass play, and Tony Romo delivered the ball to Tashard Choice. Wow, what a failure of a decision! Tashard then fumbled and the Redskins ran it back for a defensive touchdown. Yeah, okay, that is obviously Jason Garrett's fault, Wade.
Things fell off the rails for the 2010 Dallas Cowboys quickly, and after getting blasted 45-7 in Green Bay against the eventual Super Bowl XLV-winning Packers... Jerry had made up his mind. But of course... Wade had a different plan in mind.
"I asked him if I could stay on the job for one more game because I felt I would have a chance to go out on a winning note. We were playing the Giants on the road, and I said he could make the change after that game and start fresh with a new coach for our next game at home, which would be a week after the New York trip."
This is also ridiculously silly. Wade Phillips is trying to backhandedly say that the Giants were a winnable game, throwing shade at the fact that Jason Garrett did indeed win it as the interim Head Coach. Let it be known that Wade Phillips had already played the Giants that season, just 13 days earlier, and lost 41-35 (granted Tony Romo was hurt in that game... sad face again).
As if we weren't already on a parade if instability of logic here, Wade Phillips saves the biggest and baddest for the final act of this play. He cites his time in Dallas as successful, so much in fact that it precedes Pro Football Hall of Famer Tom Landry's.
I also felt good about my 34–22 record with the Cowboys. It’s not tremendous, but it’s still pretty good. That’s still the tiniest of a fraction of a percent ahead of Tom Landry, the all- time winningest coach in the history of the franchise. People don’t want to hear that, but it’s a fact.
It's a fact, people! Yeah, okay, I've about had enough. Wade Phillips is a kind man and a phenomenal defensive coordinator - hello, 2015 Denver Broncos - but he deserved to be fired when he was. No book is going to change anyone's minds on that.
Is Ezekiel Elliott is the Most Dominant Running Back in the NFL?
There's no player in football that is more hotly debated at the moment than Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott. Though much of the debate surrounds his potential contract extension, which would likely make him the highest-paid running back in the NFL, there's also been a lot of debate about his standing as the best running back in the NFL.
On Thursday, Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox released his list of the most dominant players at each position. It's a fantastic read and not just because he listed Ezekiel Elliott as the most dominant running back in the NFL.
It's certainly easy to see where he's coming from despite the debate that rages across the NFL's fanbases. Ezekiel Elliott's lead the NFL in rushing two of the three season's he's been in the league. Both of those seasons, Elliott only played 15 games, getting the benefit of the Cowboys playoff positioning being solidified prior to week 17. In 2017, he would have probably ran away with the league's rushing title again, which would make him the three-time defending rushing champion heading into 2019.
In that 2017 season when he missed six games and had a game against the Denver Broncos where he only rushed for seven yards on nine carries, Elliott still finished in the top 10 in rushing.
In 2018, he bested Saquon Bakley by 127 yards rushing. Had Elliott played in the week 17 finale last season and rushed for his season average, he would have won the rushing title by more than 200 yards. And he did that in what many considered to be a down season for Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys rushing attack. Pro Football Focus even graded Elliott as the 30th best running back for 2018.
In 2018, Elliott had 2,000 total yards, besting his 2016 number of 1,994 total yards as a rookie. His rushing total was down in 2018 from 2016, but he still had an excellent season.
No disrespect to Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Le'Veon Bell, or Chrisitan McCaffrey, but they don't have the credentials that Ezekiel Elliott brings to the table. Those guys are great running backs in their own right, but Elliott has lead the NFL in rushing in two of the three seasons he's been in the league and would have probably lead the league in 2017 had he not been suspended.
Since 2015, only Le'Veon Bell has averaged more total yards per game than Elliott, but Elliott's close and he's not used as much in the passing game as Bell. Only Todd Gurley has a higher average of rushing touchdowns per game than Elliott.
Elliott's 3.4 receptions per game through the first three seasons of his career is only slightly better than Todd Gurley who ranks sixth among this group of players. The Dallas Cowboys attempted to get Elliott more involved in 2018 but didn't work him downfield enough in his targets for him to be anything more than a dump-off option. In 2019, the Dallas Cowboys should work to get him running more intermediate routes in the passing game because as we saw in the Detroit game last season, Elliott's got really good hands.
Historically, Elliott is off to a great start to his career. His first three years in the NFL compare quite favorably to two Hall of Famers and one of the most dynamic running backs of the early 21st century.
No player with more than 100 career attempts in the NFL has averaged more rushing yards per game than Ezekiel Elliott.
Think about that for a second. Through his first three seasons, he's averaged more rushing yards per game than Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Eric Dickerson, Adrian Peterson, Tony Dorsett, Walter Payton, and the list goes on and on.
If you look at what he's done compared to other players during their first three years. Only Eric Dickerson, Earl Campbell, and Edgerrin James averaged more rushing yards per game than Ezekiel Elliott in the first three seasons of their respective careers.
One of the things that people have used to knock Ezekiel Elliott has been the volume of carries that he's received, but there's a reason that the Dallas Cowboys lean on him so heavily. They've created a run-first identity and though at times it has made the offense somewhat inefficient, it's not because the player they're handing to is not a good player, but because every team in the NFL is expecting the Dallas Cowboys to run the football with Ezekiel Elliott.
In 2018 in particular, the Cowboys offensive coaching staff, namely the departed Scott Linehan, didn't do enough to create favorable matchups in the running game. Too often it was a first down run out of heavy personnel that the defense was expecting.
With two rushing titles already in the bag, there's no reason to expect anything different from Ezekiel Elliott in 2019. It's anticipated that the offensive gameplan and execution will be better in 2019 than it was in 2018. The offensive line will be better and with Kellen Moore as the offensive coordinator, there's a thought that the Dallas Cowboys are going to be less predictable moving forward.
The debate will continue to rage over the value of extending Ezekiel Elliott with a contract that will carry him to his age 28 or 29 season, but there is no debating that Ezekiel Elliott is the best and most dominant running back in the NFL.
Is DeMarco Murray a Factor in Ezekiel Elliott’s Rumored Holdout?
There's been a lot of talk this week about a rumored training camp holdout by Ezekiel Elliott, with the Dallas Cowboys' star running back seeking a renegotiated contract. If Zeke does actually hold out, I can't help but wonder if the Cowboys' handling of DeMarco Murray a few years ago isn't a factor in his decision.
Quick history lesson; in 2014, Murray ran for the most yards (1,845) in Cowboys history for a single season. But that was also the final year of his rookie contract, and Dallas chose to let DeMarco leave in free agency when the two sides were unable to agree on new contract.
Murray had just turned 26 when he hit free agency, and his four years Dallas had not had consistent production or availability. 2014 was the first time he was able to play at such a high level, or played a full 16-game season.
As you might remember, Murray left and joined the Philadelphia Eagles under Chip Kelly. As with most things during Kelly's time in Philly, it proved to be a disaster. DeMarco was released after one year and then had a couple of seasons in Tennessee before retiring.
The way it all turned out seemed to validate the Cowboys' decision. Perhaps Murray's big year in 2014 was more about adding Zack Martin and Ron Leary to the offensive line than DeMarco himself. He certainly didn't look like the same player at any other point in his career.
But Ezekiel Elliott and his agent may not be too worried about all of those nuances. They may be looking at the simple fact that the Cowboys allowed one of the most productive RBs in football in 2014 to just walk away in free agency.
Zeke may be worried that Dallas will allow him to do the same.
There are some important differences to note between Ezekiel Elliott and DeMarco Murray. For one, Elliott's been elite every season. He's led the NFL in rushing yards-per-game the last three years.
Zeke has also been faultlessly durable, missing no games due to injury. Murray had already missed 11 games his first three years before we even got to 2014.
However, there are some similarities that can't be ignored. While Elliott's never missed time for health reasons, he missed six games in 2017 due to a suspension for a domestic violence accusation. He also came dangerously close to missing more time this year due to an incident with a security guard in Las Vegas during the offseason.
Availability is availability, whether it's for behavioral issues or injuries. The team assumes the same risk either way.
Also, Elliott has had the same benefit of running behind this great Cowboys offensive line for the last three years. It hasn't been quite as good as 2014, with Ron Leary never being completely replaced, but he hasn't lacked for superior blocking compared to most NFL running backs.
Another factor; Zeke is due to turn 24 next week. That means he'd be 25 next year when playing on the 5th-year option, and about to turn 26 when he hits unrestricted free agency in 2021.
DeMarco Murray was also 26 when he hit free agency in 2015. And he'd only played four NFL seasons, while Zeke would have just finished his fifth.
I'm not saying that Murray and Elliott are the same player. Zeke has proven himself better over a long period of time and with less talent in front and around him. He's carried the offense without Tony Romo's passing or Jason Witten and Dez Bryant still in their prime, like DeMarco had in 2014.
But in 2015, with the prospect of competing for a Super Bowl well in reach, the Cowboys decided to gamble on the shaky Darren McFadden rather than pay DeMarco Murray market value. They trusted their system and offensive line to produce a successful running back.
Zeke may be worried that Dallas is preparing to take that same approach with him. They can keep playing him at a discount this year and in 2020, when even his raise to $9 million is still a bargain compared to guys like Todd Gurley and Le'Veon Bell.
In 2021 the Cowboys could then hit Elliott with the franchise tag. He'd make a ton that year, but without any of the long-term security that other elite RBs are currently enjoying.
In that scenario, Zeke would now be turning 27 the next time free agency rolled around. And the window for getting a multi-year contract may have passed.
That's three more seasons for a major injury to finally find him. If nothing else, it's about 45-50 more games of NFL mileage that could scare other teams off.
Again, this notion of Ezekiel Elliott holding out is just a rumor right now. It may have been floated just to get some easy clicks at Pro Football Talk, which is hardly a new strategy for them.
But in all fairness, you can see why Zeke might be considering it. There's a fair reason to question the Cowboys long-term loyalty, and it goes back to how they handled their last star running back.
History Suggests a Contract Extension for Ezekiel Elliott is a Crapshoot
If rumors are true, Running Back Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon could be following in the footsteps of Le'Veon Bell by threatening to hold out not only training camp, but the 2019 season if they're not rewarded with contract extensions from their respective teams. It's a bold strategy, especially considering the history of long-term extensions previously given to running backs.
Contract extensions for running backs is always a controversial topic. It's not only one of the easier positions to replace, but the shelf life for a NFL RB is a short one due to the physical nature of the position. Players bodies break down quicker, meaning their lifespan in the league on average is between just 3 to 5 years.
For the most part, the market value for running backs around the league would suggest the position isn't one teams like to invest a lot of resources in. Although, there was an uptick in the market last year when Todd Gurley signed a four-year deal worth $14.375 million a year and then David Johnson signed for three years worth $13 million a season. Those two contracts could be the starting point for Ezekiel Elliott.
Ezekiel Elliott's camp knows all of this and so do the Dallas Cowboys. But, handing out upwards of $14 million to a position that has such a short shelf life in the league is a crapshoot at best, even to a player as talented as Zeke. History hasn't been kind to running backs who receive a long-term extension. In fact, it's really hard to put a finger on one single RB who has lived up to their contract extension.
Take Todd Gurley and David Johnson for instance. Gurley already has long-term concerns about his health, and Johnson missed nearly all of the 2018 season due to an injury. Both players are currently the top paid at the position right now, but they're not the only examples of why the Cowboys should be cautious offering Zeke a contract extension.
The RB tier below Todd Gurley and David Johnson are making around $8 million a year after receiving a contract extension. Unfortunately, the results are about the same. Devonta Freeman ($8.25 M) and Jerick McKinnon ($7.5 M) missed nearly all of the 2018 season due to injuries after being rewarded with long-term deals. Only LeSean McCoy ($8.01 M) has come close to living up to his deal, but even he has struggled off-and-on with injuries.
Need more convincing?
Let's take this back a little bit further. Chris Johnson, Johnathan Stewart, DeMarco Murray, DeAngelo Williams, Ray Rice… I can go on and on. Even players such as Arian Foster who remained productive after receiving an extension struggled with injuries. If you haven't yet, you may start to see a trend here.
Now, I'm not saying the Dallas Cowboys shouldn't extend Ezekiel Elliott. Personally I'm on the fence about it and would be fine with them going either direction. But, they absolutely have to be cautious with the way they handled this. History is a good indicator they may not get the same kind of production from Zeke as they have previously.
Do you think the Cowboys should give Ezekiel Elliott a contract extension?
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