By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
In this very space last month I lambasted Jones for failing to take his team to his so-called woodshed. But now? Wood chipper.
Gone from the abysmal outfit that ended the most disappointing season in franchise history with an embarrassing 44-6 loss in Philadelphia on December 28: Brian Stewart, Bruce Read, Terrell Owens, Anthony Henry, Brad Johnson, Chris Canty, Roy (Safety) Williams and, in all likelihood, Tank Johnson, Zach Thomas, Keith Davis and Kevin Burnett. In return, the Cowboys have added Jon Kitna, Keith Brooking, Matt Stewart and Igor Olshansky.
Suddenly Jerry is a man of his word, Garrett is a better sleeper and Phillips is a tougher, more respected coach. I get it now. You can't change 61-year-old head coaches, but you can drastically alter their perception by changing their climate.
During his reign of terror, Bill Parcells surrounded himself—at training camp, on the roster and even on his coaching staff—with his guys. Former New York Giants. A couple of ex-New England Patriots. Now, for the first time in his three-year stint, Valley Ranch is getting introduced to Phillips' guys.
Coming off 13 wins and 13 Pro Bowlers, Jones called every shot last season. More talent (Pacman). More exposure (HBO's Hard Knocks). Sensing his team was this close, more was better. But the toll of 9-7 and monumentally failed expectations can weaken any man, even one of Jones' stature and security.
The owner is now allowing Phillips to be a decision-maker, evidenced by the direct links of Olshansky, Stewart and Brooking, who each played under him during stops as defensive coordinator in Atlanta and San Diego. When the Cowboys convene for voluntary off-season workouts on March 30, they'll look at lot more like Wade Phillips' team, and a lot less like Terrell Owens'.
In the wake of T.O.'s release, the Cowboys expect more authority from Phillips, more leadership from Romo and more production from Roy Williams. Not guaranteeing they'll get it, but the biggest obstacle has been hauled off.
Etched on Owens' Cowboys tombstone: Here lies a receiver who would've rather made 11 catches in a loss than 1 catch in a win.