A Sweet Handoff So Far

if the coach's name was Landry, Johnson, Switzer or Parcells.

Indeed Phillips has run with the handoff, just as he was expected to do.

"Been everything I would have expected," Jones said of the franchise's seventh head coach. "I couldn't have expected more."

There would be some to suggest it's just that the Moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars, that for some mystical reason everything seems to be going the Cowboys' way.

The Age of Wade.

In other words, Phillips is riding an inordinate wave of luck, a blasphemous accusation to any head coach. Why, Jimmy Johnson detested the word. He preferred serendipitous, a fancier sounding synonym. Guys like Chan Gailey and Dave Campo couldn't even spell the word if you spotted them the "l" and the "u."

Warning: Do not suggest to Phillips this is the reason for the Cowboys' 11-1 record or having this real opportunity to claim the NFC East title, along with a first-round bye, home-field NFC playoff advantage, the franchise's best single-season record and grasping the possibility of becoming the NFC's first 15-win team since Minnesota in 1998 and only fourth overall (Chicago in 1985 and San Francisco in 1984). Do not even think of suggesting he might have just "fallen into something" here.

Phillips will bristle. That Port Neches aw-shucks good-ol'-boy exterior is replaced with a prideful stare.

"Well, I've got six other times I fell into it then," Phillips said, prideful of his track record as a head coach and defensive coordinator. "Last six times I've been anywhere we went to the playoffs the first year and they didn't have a winning season the year before.

"This year is the first time in seven that I've come into a team that had a winning record the year before."

That's right, and for the first time in seven the pressure was on to win immediately. Winning record? Huh. He knew nothing short of winning a division title, along with a playoff game, but for good measure two, would do.

The winning record is assured. So is the playoff berth. The division title, barring a total collapse, is forthcoming. And even at such a collapse, the Giants would have to win four straight to wipe away the Cowboys' equity built up over 12 games.

That leaves playoff victories. If Phillips wins more than one in his first year, that will be a Cowboys' first, too. For remember, Tom Landry lost his first playoff game (1966). Johnson went 1-1 his first playoff season (1991) after the Cowboys had gone through five straight losing seasons. Barry Switzer went 1-1 his first playoff season (1994), and that with the two-time defending Super Bowl championship team. Gailey went 0-1 his first (1998), and so did Parcells (2003), both taking over after losing seasons.


Well, we'll see.

But if we're reading this right, he's got that handoff headed right towards paydirt.

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