Tonight is the night. Finally, it appears Wade Phillips finds himself one loss from ensuring his pink slip, and tonight's date with the unbeaten Saints provides the perfect exit strategy for Jerry Jones. Cowboys lose, Giants swoop in and steal the last playoff spot. I can picture it now. Wade may as well be standing on the trap door.
Jones' finger has been firmly resting against the button ever since Phillips came to Texas. He hired Jason Garrett as a de facto coach-in-waiting when he brought Phillips in, but Mr. Botox seems to have soured on Garrett since. Still, the offensive coordinator plays the Bruce Gradkowski to Phillips' JaMarcus Russell, the superior option. But what kind of business model is this? A model of imminent failure, that's what.
Not surprisingly, Jones behaves like the Cowboys are the Yankees, a team destined to compete for a championship every year. Instead, Dallas last won a playoff game with Troy Aikman under center, making Jones' expectations laughable at best, delusional at worst.
Now, trust me, Phillips is awful. But the Cowboys have been beset by problems every season dating back to before Bill Parcells. Their lack of mettle reflects poorly on superstar QB Tony Romo, a Jay Cutler-level flake without the babes. Romo piles up yards in Garrett's offense, lobbing the ball to wide open receivers crossing the middle of the field. But the Cowboys are front-runners. Their offensive line (Marc Columbo) is banged up. Their running game flops every second half. They simply can't play from ahead.
On defense, Jones' collection of big-name, no-game defensive backs has cost the Cowboys for years. Finally, Roy Williams was jettisoned. Too bad they kept the other one.
Now DeMarcus Ware may miss tonight's game. He's their best player, but the Cowboys won't touch Drew Brees anyway. It would require exactly the type of grit, fight and physicality this team lacks every year, this one included.
Frankly, I can't wait for tonight. Phillips' boys will flop, the local and national Cowboy-loving media will pin yet another December loss at his feet and Jones, once Dallas misses the playoffs, will drop the ax. So predictable, so typical. Really, the fault should fall on Romo, the players and the unrealistic culture in Dallas. Big stadium, big money, big dreams — small results.
Blame Wade. Bring in some new eight-figure clown to put you over the top.
Then watch the top stretch even further out of reach.