When Wade Phillips lost his job as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, his son, Wes, remained on the coaching staff as one of the assistant offensive coaches.
Last season, Wes Phillips received one of his biggest promotions, becoming the Cowboys' tight ends coach.
Coach Jason Garrett called Wes Phillips his right-hand man, and relied on him for many things.
"A lot of what you do as an assistant is you sit in the room and you watch other coaches coach," Wes Phillips said last summer. "You do a lot of work behind the scenes in the office, and now you’re more involved in all aspects of game planning, preparing your meetings. I was fortunate to sit in that room and listen to some excellent coaches."
Maybe being sons in a football family bonded them together, but Garrett has talked lovingly of Wes Phillips.
In 2010, when Garrett took over for Wade Phillips, the move could have been difficult given Wes was still on the coaching staff. If anything, it made things easier.
"Wes is one of the great assets of this staff," Garrett said back then. "He’s been my right hand man for the last three years. He just does an outstanding job. He knows football. He likes football. He’s one of those guys who is always ahead of things and helps me immensely that way. He sees the game, he understands and can coach different positions. He’s really a huge asset for us."
Garrett, who has been with the Cowboys since 2007, depends on several coaches for help on game days, and Wes Phillips was the man providing information from the press box on if he needed to challenge close calls. When Garrett decided to make a switch with the offensive structure, he moved Phillips from the press box to the field so he could talk more with veteran tight end Jason Witten and continue to develop rookie tight end Gavin Escobar.
So with Wes Phillips moving on to the Washington Redskins, Garrett has to make a change on the coaching staff. Offensive assistant Keith O'Quinn is a possibility to replace Phillips.
But nobody can say Wes Phillips was on the Cowboys' staff because of his name. The Cowboys valued Phillips, and he earned respect across the NFL for his work.
"I think a lot of people look at nepotism and they think, ‘Well, guys get jobs that maybe don’t deserve them,'" said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, who, as son of owner Jerry Jones, heard similar comments when he started his career. "I think that shows that obviously Wes is a sharp guy. He loves football. He works hard at it. He has a passion for it. He’s obviously made his mark around here ... I think his arrow is up, and he’s only going to get better in this league."