It Takes Four Years, Says Phillips

Wade Phillips says that it takes four years to see if a head coach is any good.

In March, most football stories are almost exclusively based on hearsay and speculation and maybe the occasional police report. The draft isn’t quite here, and the season is far enough gone so even the most painful wounds (44-6) are healing.

It’s a time for irresponsible thoughts, positive or negative, depending on whom you are, concerning the upcoming football season. Any small piece of insight is picked apart by writers and fans almost instantly, like hungry piranhas on a small chunk of meat.

Dallas head coach Wade Phillips did his part Wednesday, throwing some chum in the water when he remarked, "Well, most cases it takes about four years to find out how good a coach is."

2009 will be Phillips’ third year with the team, a season during which, most believe, the coach will be firmly on the hot seat.

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Surely, Phillips could be making a preemptive strike here with respect to job security. It wouldn’t be a bad move, after the ugliness of 2008, which effectively razed the once sky-high expectations of fans and local media.

But departing from the skepticism that comes from a disappointing season, from missing the playoffs, Phillips has a point.

As crazy as it sounds now, it took the great Tom Landry six seasons to reach a championship game, and six more to win one. Had it been 2007 when he was hired, rather than 1960, Landry would have never won a championship, never become a legend, never had a large bronze statue in his likeness erected in front of Texas Stadium. Not in Dallas.

He would have been fired, and he would have been forgotten in Dallas. If, by some miracle, he was retained, firetomlandry.com would be established, and whoever was responsible for the decision would be burned in effigy on Main Street.

Not to compare Phillips to Landry; that’s a can of worms I’d rather not open (and Phillips doesn't stand a chance, anyway).

But in the ax-heavy world of professional football, the idea of continuity, of stability seems to have been lost. If Phillips doesn’t get the job done next year, he may be fired. If he doesn’t get the job done in the next two years, he will be fired.

Maybe he will, maybe he won’t win a championship with the Cowboys. I won’t get into a debate on the merits of Wade Phillips here. But the Pittsburgh Steelers, the ones with six Super Bowl wins, have had only three coaches in the last forty years.

Is this a coincidence?

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