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.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Offensive Tackle
The Dallas Cowboys would seem fairly settled at offensive tackle for 2019, with last year's starters both still under contract and set to return. But the need for a reliable backup has become increasingly important, and Dallas may also want to use this offseason to start planning for the future.
Tyron Smith and La'el Collins return to their starting roles, but not without some concern. Smith has now missed three games in each of the last three seasons, though a few of those have been for veteran rest at the end of the year.
We all remember the Chaz Green debacle in 2017 Atlanta. That led to the Cowboys paying veteran Cameron Fleming $2.5 million last season to come and play as the swing tackle, and Smith's ongoing issues with health will make his backup an offseason priority once more.
Meanwhile, Collins has started every game since taking over as the right tackle in 2017. He's been solid but not a star, which is a disappointment after his draft year hype and some of the talent he flashed at left guard during his first two seasons.
2019 is a contract year for La'el. He will turn just 27 by the 2020 season, making him an attractive potential free agent. But his play has arguably not lived up to his current salary, which has him as one of the higher-paid right tackles in the NFL already.
Anyone who has the privilege of playing next to Zack Martin has no excuses.
Even with his many trips to the Pro Bowl, Tyron Smith isn't immune to contract talk. The 2020 offseason presents Dallas with about an $8 million cap relief opportunity by releasing Smith. It would only leave them with about $5 million in dead money, which is less than they've had when releasing stars like DeMarcus Ware, Tony Romo, and Dez Bryant in recent years.
While still just 28 years old, Tyron has been getting increasingly bothered by nagging injuries. Bad backs and necks tend to become lifelong issues, and we've already mentioned the games he's missed over the last few seasons.
When healthy, Smith is still about as good as they come at left tackle. But could his health issues spark an early decline in skill? And if it happens as soon as 2019, could Dallas start looking at that cap space more intently?
With Cameron Fleming now a free agent and these 2020 question marks looming on both starters, there's a good argument for the Cowboys to spend their second or third-round pick at offensive tackle.
Ideally, a "Day 2" rookie would be able to take over as the swing tackle this year. Dallas could still sign a veteran insurance policy to compete in camp and the preseason, or even carry both players next season.
But more important aspect would be taking a player now to groom for 2020, when you might need to make a big decision on either Collins or Smith's future. Or, at the very least, have a solid swing tackle in place for the duration of his four-year rookie contract.
That said, free agency starts a month-and-a-half before the NFL Draft. The Cowboys can't really afford to wait for the draft to find a swing tackle, or else they may wind up with nothing.
The simplest move would be to just re-sign Cam Fleming. He is an adequate player with plenty of experience, and could likely be retained for about the same salary as last year.
But given Fleming's age (26) and experience, which includes starting in playoff games and even a Super Bowl for the Patriots, he could attract teams looking for even more than just a backup. Thankfully, there a still a number of veterans out there if Dallas has to find a replacement.
One guy to consider, especially for just a one-year deal, is Ty Nsekhe from the Redskins. He's a native of Arlington, TX and has started 14 games over the last three seasons, backing up the oft-injured Trent Williams. On the negative side, Nsekhe turns 34 next October.
As a whole, this 2019 offseason doesn't present any immediate dangers. The Cowboys will need to figure out their swing tackle situation by either re-signing Fleming, adding a different veteran, or drafting a replacement.
But given the contract situations of Tyron Smith and La'el Collins in 2020, Dallas could make a move in the next few months to help prepare for a potential big change a year from now.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Linebacker
One of the brightest spots on the Dallas Cowboys' projected 2019 roster is linebacker. The young pair of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have already emerged as one of the league's best duos. But that doesn't mean that the Cowboys have no work to do at the position this offseason.
Having Jaylon and Leighton does take a lot of pressure off. Most teams utilize their nickel scheme more than any other these days, which generally utilizes just two linebackers, in the increasingly pass-focused NFL. And thankfully, both Smith and Vander Esch have shown great skills in pass defense.
But there's still a semi-starting role to get figured out in the base 4-3 scheme. Damien Wilson has held the strong-side or "SAM" position for the last few years and has an expiring contract.
What's more, Dallas has a big decision to make regarding the contract of Sean Lee, which is ripe for terminating with $7 million in salary cap savings possible.
It's highly unlikely that the Cowboys would keep both Lee and Wilson. If they decide to re-sign Damien, Lee will be cut to help fund that move and others. If Sean is kept on, Wilson will almost surely be looking for a starting role somewhere else in free agency.
Even if the Cowboys do make Lee a cap casualty between now and March 13th, they may still allow Wilson to test free agency and then try to re-sign him later at a discount. He's unlikely to attract the same attention that Anthony Hitchens got last year.
Another factor in all of this is Joe Thomas, a free agent addition last year who provided good depth and could potentially start in 2019. He is scheduled to count $2.2 million against the cap, which is fine for a primary reserve but a bargain for an occasional starter.
A core of Smith, Thomas, and Vander Esch gives the Cowboys a good foundation to build from. Smith can play the SAM in the base scheme and Thomas can be the primary backup to Jaylon and Leighton in the nickel.
However, going that route would deplete the depth chart. Chris Covington, a sixth-round pick last year, would be the only noteworthy player under contract. Dallas would need to find at least two more guys to fill out the group for 2019.
They could look at re-signing backup Justin March-Lillard, who would at least bring some familiarity and veteran experience. But that might still leave them looking for more of a primary reserve, which would be especially vital if Thomas is promoted to a starting role.
The projected LB free agent pool for 2019 should make it a buyer's market. Dallas may be able to re-sign Damien Wilson or even add an upgrade, like perhaps the Vikings' Anthony Barr, at a relative bargain. There should be ample options for depth as well.
Barring an extremely favorable value opportunity, don't expect the Cowboys to spend a significant draft pick at linebacker. The fourth-round is the earliest I could see one going based on other needs, and even then it would need to be someone they really like.
Good drafting is why Dallas has flexibility and leverage this offseason. The picks they invested in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch appear to have made LB a strength of the team for the next several years.
There is still business to attend to, but the Cowboys won't have to be too concerned with linebacker in 2019 thanks to their young stars.
Xavier Woods Versatility Key in Dallas Cowboys FA Safety Pursuit
There has been a debate going on among Cowboys Nation for more than a year now about the prospects of bringing in Seattle Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas. Now with free agency approaching, there are several other names that the Dallas Cowboys could consider when looking to upgrade the safety position. Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu, and Tre Boston are several of the many quality and really good safeties that are hitting the free agent market in a few weeks. It's a group with varied skill sets and abilities, which makes the debate even more interesting. The Dallas Cowboys, however, will be able to take a look at all of them when free agency opens March 13th because of one player; Xavier Woods.
Xavier Woods, the Cowboys fifth round draft pick from the 2017 NFL Draft just finished his first full season as a starter for the Cowboys and played really well. In two years he's shown the ability to cover from the slot, play deep, play in the box, be a force over the middle, and make plays on the football. He's one of the more versatile players on the defense with his ability to play all over the field. That versatility allows the Dallas Cowboys' front office an advantage when approaching the names mentioned above.
The Dallas Cowboys don't have to be locked in to one particular type of safety. When people talk about Landon Collins, they label him a "box safety." Earl Thomas is a traditional free safety. Tre Boston is a similar player to Earl Thomas and Tyrann Mathieu is like Collins. The Cowboys can go into free agency with the freedom to explore their options and do their due diligence when it comes to these players.
That's a distinct difference from this offseason to last.
Last offseason, the feeling was that the Dallas Cowboys had to go get Earl Thomas. The safety position was so weak that the Cowboys were going to be playing at a disadvantage in the high-flying, pass-heavy NFL. Xavier Woods proved in his first full season that he can be a productive, play making starter in the NFL and should only continue to improve.
According to Pro Football Focus, Xavier Woods was sixth in the NFL in passer rating against among safeties with at least 352 coverage snaps. His 62.8 passer rating allowed in his coverage was tied with Eric Weddle, better than Derwin James, Reshad Jones, Adrian Amos, and Maliek Hooker. Of the safeties drafted in the 2017 draft class, only Eddie Jackson from the Chicago Bears had a better passer rating against than Xavier Woods.
The Dallas Cowboys got a really good player in Xavier Woods and as they get ready to potentially make a run at a big name safety, they can feel confident that whoever they end up signing will be a good fit with Woods. He can play in the box or cover receivers and tight ends. You can run more two deep safety looks, because he has the range to play it.
This year, as opposed to last, they have more certainty at the safety position because of Xavier Woods and the strides he took in 2018. There's no reason to believe that he can't continue to take a step forward for the Dallas Cowboys. His ability to play all over the field allows the Cowboys to be smart and patient in their pursuit of a safety upgrade this offseason.
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