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America's team in turmoil

Published November 12. 2010 05:00PM

So far, this has been a great year for Eagles fans.

It's hard to tell what brings them more enjoyment. Is it seeing their team battling for first place in the East Division? Or is it seeing the Cowboys buried deep in the standings and heading to one of their worst seasons in 20 years?

It's probably the latter.

The Cowboys aren't just losing games. They're in total disarray. The first mid-season firing of a head coach in franchise history is never a good sign.

A team that was billed a Super Bowl contender has played itself out of playoff contention by early November.

Years of poor decisions have culminated in a team that has no discipline, direction or determination.

Jason Garrett, who replaced Wade Phillips as head coach after America's team dropped to 1-7 with their worst performance of the season Sunday night, might be an improvement over Phillips. But it's way too late to turn around this season.

The lingering question is who will be the next head coach.

It's anyone's guess what owner Jerry Jones does in the offseason. The best move would be to hire a strong head coach, another guy like Bill Parcels or Jimmy Johnson.

The problem is Jones and a strong-willed head coach will likely clash. That's what happened with Johnson and Parcels.

The best case scenario for Cowboys fans would be for Jones to cede some of his general manager duties and allow a head coach freedom. He did that with Johnson in the early going. And many feel like Parcels left because Jones' would not give him enough control.

Since Parcels left, the team has looked worse each season. Since he left the Cowboys are one of the most penalized teams in the NFL.

The Cowboys troubles started back in 2007 when Tony Romo bobbled a field goal snap in a playoff loss to Seattle.

That loss extended Dallas playoff winless streak to 11 years. Soon after Parcels and Jones parted ways.

Had Romo not bobbled that snap and his team made the field goal, there's a good chance Parcels would have stuck around for another year or more. If the Cowboys win a playoff game the next year, maybe he's there for a long time.

As it turned out, it was the play that set in motion a chain of events that have turned the Cowboys from contenders to a laughing stock.

Parcels left. Wade Phillips was hired. Jason Garrett was overpaid to stay on as offensive coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting.

For the second time in his ownership tenure, Jones got rid of one of the league's most successful head coaches and started his team on a downward spiral.

Listening to Jones' press conferences it seems he doesn't understand that he is the problem. He doesn't realize the Cowboys would be better off if he just hired a coach and a GM and stayed out of their business, and maybe off the sidelines and out of the locker room too.

With Monday's firing of Phillips, Jones has a chance to make everything right. But he's created a dilemma for himself. Does he give Garrett a chance or does he go out and get a strong head coach?

With so many top-shelf candidates out there, there will be speculation about guys like Tony Dungy, John Gruden, Mike Holmgren, Brian Billick and even Bill Cowher.

It's possible none of them would tolerate Jones style of ownership. Even if they do, it might be hard for him to get rid of Garrett after all he's done to keep him around.

Three years ago he made Garrett the highest paid assistant coach in the league at $3 million per year.

At the time, Garrett was being courted by other teams and the speculation was that Jones' wanted Aikman's former back up to be his future head coach. But Dallas' offense hasn't been very proficient the past couple years under the 44-year old Princeton graduate and NFL career back up, and he's no longer viewed around the league as a top head coaching candidate, especially with so many other big names on the market.

There's no questions Jones wants to put out a winning team. The problem is he doesn't seem to know how to do that himself and he seems unwilling to let someone else do it.

He invested huge sums of money on a shiny new stadium and he knows people aren't going to fill it to watch a losing team.

If Jones wants to get his team turned around, he needs to stay out of his head coach's way, no matter who it might be. If he doesn't he will likely produce more seasons that make Eagles fans happy.

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