Sports Outside the Beltway

Wade Phillips Still in Running for the Cowboys Job

San Diego defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, touted by Chris Mortensen as the early favorite, is still in the hunt for the Dallas Cowboys head coaching job, Len Pasquarelli reports.

Despite the perception that the Dallas Cowboys coaching search is moving away from Wade Phillips, league sources familiar with the process insist that the San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator remains on owner Jerry Jones’ radar screen and retains a chance to land the job.

Phillips spent much of Tuesday contacting coaches he wants to hire as assistants if he gets the Dallas job, those sources said. “It would be an overstatement to say he’s putting together a staff,” one source said. “But he was just touching base with his guys, updating them as to where he thinks things stand, and trying to hold [potential staffers] together. He is still in the hunt.”

In head coaching stints with Denver (1993-94) and Buffalo (1998-2000), Phillips compiled a 45-38 record, including the playoffs, and led his teams to three wild-card berths. He also served stints as interim head coach at New Orleans in 1985 and Atlanta in 2003.

Phillips, 59, is an attractive candidate, in part, because of his preference for the 3-4 defense. The Cowboys have invested considerable time, energy, draft picks and money over the past three years assembling young players to help them transition to a 3-4 front, and Jones is not inclined at this point to scrap that experiment and go back to a 4-3 alignment.

Phillips is an unexciting choice but, then again, so is Norv Turner.

Given that untested Jason Garrett is going to be the offensive coordinator, I’d still bet on Turner, especially if Jones can land Ron Rivera to take over the defense. For that matter, even a Dave Campo on defense would be a solid complement to Turner. Conversely, having a defensive-minded head coach means that Garrett is left to fly solo with the offense.

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