Camp Misconception

Carpenter looks like a football player. So does Fasano, who is showing an ability to get down the field and to make conversation-stopping catches. One staffer has compared him favorably to Washington's talented H-back Chris Cooley. Hatcher looks like a breakout pass rusher waiting to happen, Watkins appears ready to at least provide substantial depth, and seventh-round tackle Pat McQuistan, virtually redshirted last year, has already lined up with the first team at both offensive tackles in the first week in San Antonio. Draft class bust? It looks more like we'll be singing a different tune this time next year.

MISCONCEPTION #5: Wade Phillips is just another coaching rollover for the Jerry Jones bulldozer. This does a real injustice to both men and is the single biggest misconception of Camp Riverwalk. It first presupposes that Jones learned nothing from his time with Parcells. Jones chose to make significant changes in his daily approach to accommodate Parcells. Why would anyone presume he took nothing from the experience?

More to the point, anyone who thinks Phillips was hired because he's a marshmallow AntiBill does not comprehend a 31-year NFL coaching career including five as a head coach. The man keeps getting work, people. He has an impressive résumé. You can succeed once by accident. The last six times he's joined a team as head coach or coordinator, his new team made the playoffs.

But don't let me bore you with statistics. Google the man. Look 'em up for yourself. He has not produced these results with milk and cookies. You can be born to leadership or fall into it once, maybe twice. You can't keep racking it up like Phillips has if you have no backbone. Just because Jones, and everyone else, isn't afraid of him, as most were of Parcells, doesn't mean he does not have their respect. Quite the contrary. It's not just players. Office assistants will tell you how much more enthused they are coming to work because their tiptoes are getting a rest.

And make no mistake, the players want to play for this man. Will they still five years from now? Who knows? But do not confuse a mild demeanor with an absence of conviction. Did you hear Phillips at the camp-opening news conference, referring to himself as "a great defensive coordinator and now I want to prove I can be a great head coach?" Does that sound like a man with no ego or sense of himself to you?

Right now, players know they are being respected and they are embracing the pressure that goes with that. That's right, pressure. Wade Phillips is putting his players in a position to succeed. If they don't, it's their fault, not his.

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