Wade Phillips is a nice guy. A player's coach. A "Cupcake," if you will.
The third-year head coach's vow to be more demanding, which he made shortly after his guys were slapped around by the Eagles last December, has become something of a hot topic this offseason; so much so, in fact, that "Wade 'Mr. Mean' Phillips" was the number 3 training camp storyline, as listed by John P. Lopez of SI.com.
Phillips' metamorphosis, which occurred presumably some time last Spring, is generally scoffed at, which is understandable considering his history; and predictably, the article echoes the derisive doubts of many, even going so far as to compare Phillips to Mr. Rogers.
"So far Phillips has held players more accountable and been stricter when it comes to making players sit out if they make mistakes," Lopez says. "Phillips also says he will wield a bigger stick when it comes to fines."
The center of the Dallas Cowboys universe.
"It should be quite the soap-opera drama, as usual, in Jerry World as Phillips tries to be something he's not," Lopez continues. "Camp fun opens this week. Jones surely will be asked about his head coach soon thereafter."
Okay, the table slapping at the pre-camp press conference--very Josef Stalin of him--was a little much. But is it possible for Phillips to change without, as Lopez says, trying "to be something he's not?"
It's doubtful, but not (quite) impossible. Indeed, Phillips' ability to command respect this year will hinge on his ability to avoid trying to be something he's not. Anyone who has watched Dallas collapse twice in two years would likely shudder at the thought of a mere Wade Phillips, merely being himself. But this is a lot better than a mere Wade Phillips wearing a big, fishy, tough-guy facade.
You don't have to be a Bill Cower to instill accountability; it's just a lot easier if you are. And accountability is what Dallas has so painfully lacked over the past two years, the very reason why Phillips is parked so firmly in the hot seat.
Phillips will do everything he can to instill acountability because his job depends upon it; he is charged with the monumentally difficult task of being his old, unintimidating self while, somehow, commanding an unprecedented respect from his team; while, somehow, appeasing his ubiquitous boss.
If, come October, Phillips is doing his best Vince Lombardi impression, he's already failed.