Sports Outside the Beltway

Wade Phillips Gets to Work on Assembling Staff

While allowing Bill Parcells to take three weeks to decide whether he was retiring was really sweet and taking another three weeks to conduct an exhaustive search of everyone who could conceivably be hired as head coach–and a few that couldn’t–Jerry Jones has left newly hired head coach Wade Phillips in the position of assembling a staff from the coaches none of the other 31 teams picked.

FWST’s Rick Herrin observes that, “With 30 years of NFL coaching experience to rely on, Phillips shouldn’t have a problem finding the coaches he needs.” There’s no question that there are, as Phillips noted in his press conference yesterday, more outstanding coaches than jobs in the NFL. Still, it’s not the ideal scenario. And it’s one that could have been avoided, frankly, since Phillips was apparently Jones’ choice from the get-go.

The early speculation is that the holdovers from Parcells’ staff will remain with the team, joining Jason Garrett and perhaps a third generation of the Bum Phillips tree.

Only six coaches from Parcells’ staff are still with the team — Todd Bowles (secondary), Paul Pasqualoni (linebackers), Vincent Brown (inside linebackers), Kacy Rodgers (defensive line), Tony Sparano (assistant head coach/offensive line/running game coordinator) and Joe Juraszek (strength and conditioning). Jason Garrett is expected to take over as offensive coordinator.

Bowles is considered to be the leading candidate for defensive coordinator. One candidate Phillips would have likely considered was taken out of the picture when Chargers linebackers coach Greg Manusky was named 49ers defensive coordinator.

Phillips, who coached for his father, Bum, with the Oilers, loves his family, and his 27-year-old son, Wes, could be hired as an assistant. Wes just completed his first year as quarterbacks coach at Baylor. He could be a candidate for the offensive quality control position vacated by David Lee. Wes also coached quarterbacks at West Texas A&M for two years and played quarterback at UT-El Paso. When asked if his son was a candidate for his staff, Wade Phillips said, “He’s a coach and he’s a good one.”

While a 27-year-old with no NFL experience lacks the ideal resume, having grown up around football has likely sped up his learning curve.

As to Garrett, Jones admits there are questions.

“When you’re a young guy and you don’t have a lot of experience, then how-ready-you-are is the question mark.”

Without specifically saying Garrett will be the next coordinator, Jones referred to him and offensive line coach Tony Sparano as a likely duo for 2007 season. “With him and Tony, I think you’ve got a really good foundation and that influenced me,” Jones said. “I’m comfortable. I think I used the term, ‘Those guys will be operating without a net.’ I like that. That brings out the best in people.”

What his role will be is unclear but it looks like he’s going to be given most of the offensive play-calling responsibilities.

With Phillips as the coach, expect Garrett to call plays. Sparano, who was promoted before the 2006 season to assistant head coach/offensive line and contributed as a play caller, will be an aide. Expect Sparano to serve as a running backs and offensive line coach.

And just because Garrett played under Turner does not mean Romo will run a timing-based passing offense, the same offense Turner prefers, and the one Troy Aikman had great success running in the 1990s. Garrett played under different offensive coordinators, including New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton when they were with the New York Giants. “Jason is not married to any offense,” Jones said. “One of his plusses is he’s been with so many different types of offenses.”

Frankly, the offense was pretty successful last year. Making a radical change to a completely different scheme would make little sense.

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