Players: Blame us, not Wade Phillips

ARLINGTON, Texas – Wade Phillips’ most vocal – and important – supporter wasn’t available for comment after the game.

Owner/general manager Jerry Jones was nowhere to be found in the Cowboys’ locker room after the game, which is rather unusual. Of course, it’s also unusual to see a team with this much talent stumble to a 1-3 start.

Combine a ton of talent with way too many penalties and mistakes and it isn’t pretty. It’s also a recipe for a coach getting canned.

That isn’t likely to happen in the middle of the season. Jones has never fired a coach before a season was finished, and it’d be stunning to see him make such a rash decision months after giving Phillips a new two-year contract.

However, it’s a question that Jerry will have to answer the next time he deals with the media.

It isn’t a fair question, according to the people who accept fault for the fire that’s burning under Phillips’ butt.

“Wade is the same coach that everybody loved when we won 13 games here,” cornerback Terence Newman said. “Why rip on him now?

“We had Bill Parcells here and we didn’t win 13 games. We never even got out of the [first round of] the playoffs. We got out of the [first round of] the playoffs last year with Wade. Tell me where the fairness is with that.

“It’s the same coach we’ve had the last few years. We’ve had success. This year, we’re not having success. You’re going to blame our head coach? It’s us that have to go out and play. There’s no changing in our coach. He’s on us and stays on us. Everybody thinks he’s a soft coach, but he’s honestly not.”

The Cowboys rallied to Phillips’ defense last December, when the owner openly said Dallas needed a strong finish for Phillips to return. The Cowboys responded by winning its final three regular-season games to claim the NFC East crown and followed up by ending the franchise’s dozen-year playoff-win drought.

At the rate the Cowboys are going, December won’t matter this season. They need to get their season turned around in a hurry to give themselves a chance to even make the playoffs.

“The thing that I respect about him more than anything is that he believes in his team,” tight end Jason Witten said. “He’s so consistent in the way he is with our team. As players, we appreciate it. We need to do a better job of playing so that we’re not 1-3 and you can fix this before it gets away from you.”

The potential lockout looming clouds the picture, but it’s difficult to envision Jerry letting Phillips finish his contract if the Cowboys fail so miserably when expectations were so high.

OK, that’s exactly what Jerry did after the 2008 debacle despite harsh criticism from fans and media. The torches are lit and the pitchforks have been sharpened again.

“It’s not fair, but it’s up to the players to go out there and win and execute,” linebacker Bradie James said. “If we don’t want you guys on him, we’ve got to do our jobs better.”