Playoff success yields security, respect

IRVING, Texas – Wade Phillips, the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL, wonders why he can’t get any respect.

After all, he’s 30-14 as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and has his team in first place of the NFC East entering December. Yet his lack of job security is a hot topic around Valley Ranch, with owner/general manager Jerry Jones indicating this afternoon that the Cowboys’ finish this season would play a major factor in his decision whether Phillips would return next season.

“We’ve won some games here,” Phillips said. “I don’t know if people realize that, but we’ve won quite a few games here and hopefully we can win some more.”

Phillips has been down this road before. He thought he “did a heck of a job” while going 29-19 as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, but he was fired after three seasons.

Jerry vaguely discussed Phillips’ job status with reporters at practice this afternoon. The owner has never discussed that topic with the head coach, who is in the final season of a three-year contract with an option for 2010.

Phillips has consistently stated that he doesn’t think about his job status, but frustration was evident in Phillips’ voice as he answered questions about the subject Wednesday afternoon.

“All I do is try to do the best I can as a coach,” Phillips said. “I work hard at that. I don’t think I get a lot of respect for that, but that’s the way it goes.”

There is the pesky matter of the playoffs. Phillips acknowledges that a lack of postseason success is the glaring hole on his resume.

He has a 78-52 record in the regular season, including brief interim stints with the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. His .600 winning percentage ranks ahead of every active head coach with at least 50 games experience except for New England’s Bill Belichick, Philadelphia’s Andy Reid and New Orleans’ Sean Payton.

But Phillips is 0-4 in the playoffs. And his team was blown out by the Eagles last season with a playoff berth at stake.

“I think that winning breeds winning,” Phillips said. “If you’re a winner, then you’re going to come out fine whether it’s regular season or playoffs sooner or later. If you learn to coach and win games, then you’re going to do well. And I’m confident that we’re going to do that.”

If Phillips is right, he’ll return to Valley Ranch. If he’s wrong, he’ll likely be looking for a job as a defensive coordinator this winter.