One of the hallmarks of Blue Star's first season covering the Cowboys has been the Know Your Wade Replacements series created by Drew Magary. There won't be a new addition to the series this week, and not just because Drew is enjoying a little time off before the holiday. Beating the undefeated Saints in prime time while throwing the December monkey from your back has a way of working out well for embattled coaches.
Say what you will about Phillips, but he's never wavered in his belief in the talent that he has on his roster. That creates problems from time to time -- see Nick Folk's continued employment -- but Saturday night was a pretty big vote for staying the course over making dramatic changes in the face of criticism. Phillips has steadfastly refused to do that and it paid off.
He's also remained largely hands-off when it comes to in-game decision-making. That also paid off on Saturday night when the Cowboys found themselves up only a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Saints were mounting a comeback, the crowd was going crazy and we've seen coaches around the league panic in the face of less imposing circumstances in the past. Phillips didn't, though, and the Cowboys simply went out on offense and did what they'd been doing all game.
Folk's missed kick meant it was all for naught, but even the prospect of Drew Brees didn't make the coach move in a different direction. The defense didn't play back on their heels and continued attacking, a decision which would have elicited immediate calls for Phillips's head if it failed. But DeMarcus Ware was DeMarcus Ware and the game was sealed with a fumble.
That a talented player made a monumental play could be used as an argument that Phillips's coaching didn't do anything to win the game, but there's another way of looking at that. The Cowboys have talented players and you'd be a fool to try and do too much that gets in the way of their ability to do what they do best.
Of course, all of this took place against the backdrop of rumors linking Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops to the Cowboys job so it's not like Phillips is out of the woods yet. What a guy renowned for his inability to win big bowl games would do to change the postseason fortunes of the Cowboys is uncertain, but, for now, it's not worth worrying about.