DENVER - AUGUST 16: Head coach Wade Phillips of the Dallas Cowboys leads his team against the Denver Broncos during preseason NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on August 16, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Cowboys 23-13. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
In making good on his promise to be more demanding of his players, Wade Phillips will do the Dallas Cowboys a great service; of course, we'll have to wait to see just what, in his words, "more demanding, more whatever" means exactly.
But early in camp, a palpable difference can be seen in Phillips and, in turn, the Cowboys as a whole. Wade has been uncharacteristically short with the media at times this year; players who miss an assignment or jump offsides must sit out the next play; and gone, apparently are the days when Wade took on the role of tireless defender of his team, justified or not.
Dallas seems to have a greater sense of accountability this season, which is more than you could say in 2008, and a credit to the third-year head coach.
This was illustrated this week in the no-nonsense, no excuses approach Phillips took with the media after a lackluster practice on Tuesday, which was echoed by receiver Roy Williams.
"[Practice] wasn't that good offensively for us, in the passing game," Williams said. "A lot of incompletions, a couple interceptions, so I'm glad we got that out the way so it won't be like that on Thursday. I don't know [what caused it], I gotta watch film."
Phillips then went on to say in his press conference on Wednesday,"We weren't ready to play yesterday, and I was disappointed in practice yesterday mentally," Phillips said. "We've addressed that."
This is a departure, seemingly, from past seasons, during which any mistake was looked upon almost immediately as aberrant, a blip on the team's radar that would work itself out along the way. As Tim MacMahon over at DMN points out, this is a man who complained about media criticism over an immoderately ugly win over the Bengals last year.
The days of going through the motions, of assuming a place in the upper echelon of the NFL, are seemingly gone, which points, as much as the idea was derisively joked about this summer, to a changed Wade Phillips.
A changed Wade Phillips, if we're to assume that he has in fact undergone a significant change, is a good thing, but it's also only half the battle; because no one ever said a changed Wade Phillips was a golden ticket to the playoffs.
It's just a good start.