Mac Engel

This former Cowboys head coach wants the Rams to beat Dallas more than anyone

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Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said beating the Seattle Seahawks is great, but that his goal is "much bigger than just one playoff win."

The morning after a 45-7 loss on Sunday night in Green Bay in 2010 to drop the Cowboys to 1-7, Jerry Jones stood in the team meeting room next to his head coach, Wade Phillips.

Jerry spoke for several minutes to the entire team and said, “When things don’t go the way you planned in sports, particularly football, someone has to pay the consequence.”

Jerry then announced he had fired Wade. Wade told the team how much he enjoyed coaching the team, and walked out. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett walked in, and Jerry introduced their new interim head coach.

When the offense and defense broke out into their respective meeting rooms, Garrett handed the offensive players the playbook for the week. The players who received the playbook said it was unlike anything they had seen previously with the team.

It is little anecdotes like this that always irked Wade about the offensive coordinator he never hired.

When Wade was hired in ‘07, Jerry choked up at the press conference and said, “I wanted to get this one right.”

Minutes later, Wade admitted the one thing missing from his resume was being regarded as a great head coach.

Neither Jerry nor Wade got what they wanted.

For all of those convinced Garrett is the worst coach on earth and the constant death of the Dallas Cowboys, there is another rung lower on the head coaching ladder, and he’s currently the defensive coordinator of the L.A. Rams.

Wade is going to want this one more than anyone in Los Angeles on Saturday night when the Cowboys play the Rams in the NFC Divisional Round.

He would never admit it publicly, but Uncle Wade will forever be convinced Garrett undermined him.

Among the dozens of regrettable and questionable decisions made by Jerry in his reign of terror as owner of the Cowboys, naming Uncle Wade as the head coach back in 2007 should always remain in the top three.

Wade will always be the picture of a good defensive coordinator who simply did not have it in him to be an NFL coach, regardless of what the record says.

Garrett may never win a Super Bowl, but he will always be a better head coach than Wade. Because unlike Wade, players never quit on Jason Garrett.

AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE

Jerry famously hired Garrett as his offensive coordinator before he named Wade his head coach in ‘07, after Bill Parcells retired.

The plan was always for Garrett to succeed Wade. The question was when. Jerry’s plan was always odd, but oh so very Jerry that a head coach did not name his own offensive coordinator.

Wade understood that if he was to become the head coach of the Cowboys, something he desperately wanted, he had to agree that Garrett would call the plays.

After enough time, it was also zero secret that Garrett was no fan of Wade’s “looser” mentality.

Because Garrett was raised in a football family, he understood and respected the chain of command; he was not going to pull some cliche end-around to remove Wade.

When my spouse coined Wade “Coach Cupcake” in the Star-Telegram during the 2008 training camp, the name stuck for a reason. Wade simply did himself favors with the Cowboys. From calling himself, “Mr. Fix It” to celebrating a “Bye Week” playoff win, he made himself an easy target.

Wade also openly admitted he was a “softie,” which does not work as an NFL head coach. As a coordinator? He’s demonstrated it can work.

Wade may have been given entry into the NFL because of his famous father, the late Bum Phillips, but he has not remained in the league for 40 years because of nepotism.

Wade’s legacy with the Cowboys is taking a good team in ‘07, and blowing home field advantage in the playoffs by losing to the New York Giants in the divisional round.

Players liked Wade, because he is likeable. Players did not respect Wade.

By the middle of the ‘10 season, they quit on him.

SUCCESSFUL DEPARTURES

Despite sporadic results and two career playoff wins - both in the wild-card round - the single biggest reason Garrett remains in good standing with Jerry is the players never quit. While the results are maddening, the effort is not.

The Cowboys, under Garrett, also have a far better record in personnel than under Wade. That’s not a coincidence.

Because Wade is a good defensive coordinator, he landed another job and finally won the Super Bowl with the Broncos in the ‘15 season. It was good to see a guy who had been in the game for what is now four decades win it.

Wade has been with the Rams since ‘17, and the team has been one of the NFL’s best in that tenure. Also, not a coincidence.

Wade Phillips was always a good coach, he just should never have been the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Just as Jerry should never have left Jimmy Johnson walk out the door, he should never have let Uncle Wade walk through it.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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