Wade Wilson returned to the Dallas Cowboys organization as the quarterbacks coach in 2007 after spending three seasons with the Chicago Bears in the same capacity. A native Texan with football roots that go back to his high school and collegiate career as a quarterback, Wilson is recognized around the NFL as a solid teacher of young quarterbacks. His work with Tony Romo dates back to 2007 when the club’s all-time passing yards leader started the first full season of his career. Since Wilson’s return to Dallas, Romo has thrown for 31,251 yards and 228 touchdowns on 2,606-of-3,994 passing (65.2) with a rating of 97.2.
The 2015 season was a challenging one for Wilson as he prepared four different quarterbacks to start games for the Dallas - the second time in Cowboys history four different players started at quarterback in a season (2001) and the third time in his career Wilson worked with four different starters in a season (2004, Chicago and 2001, Dallas). Romo was limited to four starts (clavicle) and he was replaced by Brandon Weeden (three), Matt Cassel (seven) and Kellen Moore (two).
Despite undergoing offseason back surgery, Romo took the helm for 15 starts in 2014, missing one with an unrelated back injury, and helped lead the team to a 12-4 record, the club’s 22nd Division title - 18th NFC East title - 31st postseason appearance and 34th playoff win. He led the league and established team records, completing 69.9% of his passes and finishing with a rating of 113.2. Romo topped 3,000 yards for the seventh time in his career (3,705) and notched his fourth 30-touchdown season (34). He finished the year fourth in the league in touchdowns, tied for the eighth-fewest interceptions (nine), 14th in yards, 16th in completions (304) and 23rd in attempts (435). He was selected to his fourth Pro Bowl and earned AP second-team All-NFL honors. Romo also took home NFC Offensive Player of the month honors (December), finishing the month a perfect 4-0, completing 83-of-111 passes for a league-best 74.8 completion percentage for 987 yards with a league-high 12 touchdowns, just one interception and a league-high 133.7 rating. Weeden started one contest and saw time in four other games, completing 24-of-41 passes for 303 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Romo had another solid season under Wilson in 2013, completing 63.9% (342-of-535) for 3,828 yards with 31 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions in 15 starts, missing the finale with a back injury. Romo’s +21 touchdown to interception ratio tied his 2011 number as the best in his career, and his 31 touchdown passes was his third and the club’s third 30-plus touchdown season. Wilson’s work also saw Romo finish fifth in the league in touchdowns and eighth in the league in passer rating (96.7).
Romo started all 16 games at quarterback for the fourth time in his career in 2012 and established single-season club records for passing yards (4,903), attempts (648) and completions (425). He was one-of-five NFL quarterbacks with 600-plus attempts and 425 completions in 2012 and one of the 15 to accomplish the feat in the history of the NFL. His 28 touchdown passes tied for fourth in team history, and despite throwing a career-high tying 19 interceptions, Romo’s 65.6 completion percentage was fifth. Kyle Orton made his Cowboys debut late in the fourth quarter against Chicago (10/1) and finished nine-of-10 for 89 yards with one touchdown.
After losing Romo for most of the 2010 season, the quarterback returned to form in 2011 to produce one of his finest statistical seasons as a pro. Romo established a career-high mark with a 102.5 quarterback rating (second in team history), while his 31 touchdowns and 4,184 passing yards were second in his career. Both his attempts (522) and completions (346) totals were good for second in his career while both made the club record books - attempts (third) and completions (second) - and his 66.28 completion percentage was a personal-best and second in team history. The 2011 season was not without challenges as injuries to Romo opened opportunities for both Jon Kitna and Stephen McGee. Kitna subbed for Romo (ribs) in the third quarter at San Francisco (9/18) and McGee entered the Philadelphia (12/24) game following the first offensive series after Romo suffered a bruised hand.
Wilson was challenged in 2010 as he had to prepare three different starting quarterbacks, with one making his first career start, and another seeing his first action since 2008. Romo started the season, but a fractured left clavicle suffered against the N.Y. Giants (10/25) led the way for Kitna to take the helm. Before the injury, Romo completed 148-of-213 passes (69.5%) for 1,605 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. In his first action since 2008, Kitna completed 209-of-318 passes (65.7%) for 2,365 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions before suffering an abdominal injury at Arizona (12/25). McGee took over for an injured Kitna at Arizona, before making the first start of his career at Philadelphia (1/2/11). On the day, he completed 11-of-27 passes for 127 yards with one touchdown. With the win at Philadelphia, McGee became just the 14th Dallas quarterback to win in his first career start as a Cowboy.
Romo had one of his best seasons under Wilson in 2009 as the quarterback showed great maturity and ball protection. Romo had a single-season career-low nine interceptions while setting then career-highs and club records in completions (347), attempts (550) and yards (4,483) and a then personal-best quarterback rating (97.6). Romo also earned his third Pro Bowl berth while setting a club record for 300-yard passing games in a season with eight. Wilson also worked with NFL veteran and Dallas newcomer, Kitna, who served as Romo’s backup, while grooming fourth round draft choice McGee.
Wilson was charged with the task of preparing three different starting quarterbacks in 2008 - Romo, Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger - with Romo missing three games due to a broken pinkie finger. Johnson filled in for two starts and Bollinger one start. Romo was unable to put up the same numbers as in Wilson’s first year in 2007, but still managed to throw for 300-or-more yards in six games - good for the second-best total in club history. He also had six games with at least three touchdowns and finished with 26 touchdown passes on the year. Romo threw for 3,448 yards in 2008, marking the second consecutive year he topped 3,000 passing yards, becoming the first quarterback to do so since Troy Aikman had three (1995-97).
In his first season back with Dallas, Wilson’s work with Romo allowed the first-time starter to rewrite club passing records. Under Wilson, Romo was the league’s fifth-rated passer (97.4) - good for third in club annals. His 4,211 passing yards allowed the fifth-year veteran to become the first quarterback in club history to top 4,000 passing yards. Romo completed 335 passes which topped Danny White’s single-season franchise record set in 1983 and shattered White’s record of 29 passing touchdowns, finishing with 36. Romo also became the first signal caller in franchise history to throw four touchdowns in back-to-back games. On the season, he logged four games with four-or-more touchdown passes, also establishing a club record. Among the many other accomplishments of the young starter, Romo finished 2007 with seven games of 300-or-more passing yards, another team record.
In 2006 Wilson’s guidance helped steer fourth-year quarterback Rex Grossman in leading the Bears to an NFC title and a berth in the Super Bowl. Grossman threw 23 touchdown passes in his first full year as a starter, while directing Chicago to a 13-3 regular season record.
Through Wilson’s first two seasons in Chicago (2004-05), rookie quarterbacks started 20 of the team’s 32 regular season games while posting a 13-7 record. Under Wilson in 2005, rookie Orton was the Bears starter and went on to win nine of his first 12 starts. He finished the year with 10 wins - the most for a rookie drafted in the fourth round-or-later since the common draft was instituted in 1967. His 10 wins were also second for a rookie passer during that span, behind Ben Roethlisberger in 2004. His eight-game win streak was also the second-longest by a rookie passer in the NFL dating back to 1970.
Wilson’s first season in Chicago (2004) was marked by four starting quarterbacks each starting at least three games. Grossman began the season, but was lost due to injury. Jonathan Quinn had the next three starts, but rookie Craig Krenzel took over for three games before an injury sidelined him for the season. Chad Hutchinson started the last five games.
Wilson made his coaching debut in Dallas in 2000 after 19 years as an NFL quarterback - including three years with Dallas (1995-97). Along with his playing experience, Wilson has overseen two of the most tumultuous seasons in Dallas quarterback history, coaching six different starting quarterbacks in his 32 games as the club’s quarterback coach.
Wilson was forced to prepare four different starting quarterbacks during the 2001 season. It was the first time in club history four different players started at quarterback in the same season. Dallas opened the season with a rookie quarterback for just the third time in franchise history when Quincy Carter took the field against Tampa Bay. Injuries forced Carter from the lineup for eight of the next nine games. During that span, Anthony Wright earned three starts, Clint Stoerner led the club in two games and Ryan Leaf took the helm for three games in November. Carter returned to the lineup in December and guided the Cowboys to three wins in their final six games.
Wilson’s first year on the job was just as hectic as four different quarterbacks saw action during the season, the first time in club history four different players saw action at quarterback in the same season. Troy Aikman started 11 games but missed five starts and parts of three other games with injuries. Randall Cunningham relieved Aikman on two occasions and started three other games in his place. His start at Washington (9/18) produced a 27-21 win for Dallas and gave Dave Campo his first win as a head coach and Wilson his first as an assistant. Stoerner, in his rookie year, saw action in one game before giving way to newcomer Wright.
A former Pro Bowler, Wilson joined the coaching ranks after a 19-year playing career. Only four other players in NFL history had played more seasons than Wilson. He was originally an eighth round draft choice (210th overall) of the Minnesota Vikings in 1981 and led them to three playoff appearances, including the 1987 NFC Championship Game, during his 11 years with the team. He also spent time with the Atlanta Falcons (1992), New Orleans Saints (1993-94), Dallas Cowboys (1995-97) and Oakland Raiders (1998-99). He served as Aikman’s backup on the Cowboys Super Bowl XXX championship team in 1995.
Wilson completed his career with a 75.6 quarterback rating on 1,391-of-2,428 passing for 17,283 yards. His best statistical year was 1988 when he led the NFC with a 91.5 quarterback rating and completed 204-of-332 passes (61.4%) for 2,746 yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. During his three years in Dallas, Wilson threw for 585 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions on 58-of-96 passing for a 63.9 rating. He earned one start (at Washington, 12/22/96) in his three-year stay in Dallas.
He was a four-year letterman and three-year starter at East Texas State University, where he earned NAIA All-America and Lone Star Conference MVP honors as a senior while leading the conference in passing and total offense. He played high school football at nearby Commerce, Texas, High School.
Charles Wade Wilson was born on February 1, 1959 in Commerce, Texas. He majored in business management at ETSU, and he has his real estate license and his SEC-series seven registration. Wilson has four children; Travis Wade, Hayden, and twins Coleton and Sophie.