The National Football League's Dallas Cowboys have fired head coach Wade Phillips after the team lost its fifth consecutive game for a mid-season record of one win and seven losses. The Cowboys performance is especially disappointing considering they hoped to follow last season's strong performance by becoming the first team in NFL history to play in the Super Bowl in its home stadium.
As the Cowboys continued to lose games this season, observers believed it was only a matter of time before team owner Jerry Jones made a change. That change came late Monday, one day after the Cowboys suffered their second worse loss in franchise history, a 45-7 trouncing by the Green Bay Packers in a nationally televised game.
Jones named Cowboys' offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to take over for the remaining eight games of 16-game 2010-2011 NFL regular season.
"A decision has been made to move forward with a new person in the head coaching position with the Dallas Cowboys," said Jones. "Jason Garrett has been named interim head coach and he will replace Wade Phillips effective immediately."
Phillips was in his fourth season with Dallas, which is languishing at the bottom of its division and conference standings. The Cowboys share the second-worst record in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers, ahead only of the winless Buffalo Bills.
The 44-year-old Garrett said he is excited to be the new Dallas Cowboys head coach, but acknowledged there is much work to be done by all.
"We have to put the first eight games of the season behind us," said Garrett. "We need to learn from them, and we need to go forward. One of the things that I talk to the players about all the time is embracing the moment, embracing the day - being great today, and that's what I'm going to ask the coaching staff to do, that's what I'm going to ask the players to do, and everyone involved in this organization to do - be great today."
It is the first time since buying the Cowboys in 1989 that Jones has made a coaching change during the season. The Dallas owner said the players failed their head coach, whom he called a "vivid example of accountability."
Jones said firing Phillips was a difficult decision. "We're grateful to Wade, and his contributions to the Cowboys, leading us to two division titles in his first three seasons with the club."
Phillips was both head coach and the Cowboys defensive coordinator. Jones handed over Phillips' coordinator duties to defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni for the rest of the season.
Phillips leaves the Cowboys with a regular season record of 34 wins against 22 losses. He has a career record of 82 wins and 61 losses. Phillips also held coaching positions with the NFL's Buffalo Bills, the Denver Broncos, the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints. Garrett said it was an honor and a privilege to be an assistant to Phillips over the last three-and-a-half years.
"He's a fine a person as you'll meet in or out of football," said Garrett. "I think his track record as a coach, as an assistant coach, as a coordinator and as a head coach in the NFL speaks for itself."
Garrett is the first former Dallas player to be named Cowboys' head coach. The former quarterback is the seventh Cowboys head coach since 1989, when the legendary Tom Landry retired after coaching the team for its entire 29-year history up to that point.
Garrett played the first seven of 12 NFL seasons in Dallas, where he primarily was a back-up to Cowboys' Super Bowl-winning quarterback Troy Aikmen. He also played on the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before ending his playing days in 2004 with the Miami Dolphins. Garrett is a graduate of prestigious Princeton University, one of the top universities in the United States.
Garrett's first test as head coach is this Sunday when the Cowboys go on the road to take on the division-leading New York Giants, who have a 6-2 mark so far this season.