Same Message, Different Tactic

might resemble most in this regard is Tom Landry. Settle down, now. No one's saying Phillips is the second coming of Landry. But that was Landry's style. No histrionics, lots of plain talk, and a belief that grown men should not require artificial means to motivate themselves. And if they did, the players would do it for each other.

Second-year tight end Anthony Fasano got a dose of Parcells, which was just like the four years he spent with Parcells protégé Charlie Weis at Notre Dame.

"Wade lets the motivation come from other players and from yourself," Fasano notes. "They're different approaches. But I take his messages personally. He talked to us after last week about the after-play penalties and how we couldn't have them. You just don't want to let him down."

And this appears to be one of Phillips' greatest strengths as a head coach, at least as the head coach of this team right now. Players who had become accustomed to being bullied into certain behaviors, to being motivated out of fear, seem to be truly appreciating being treated what feels to them as like adults.

"Wade is demanding," Witten insists, and that's what fans need to know. Most folks probably view Wade Phillips as anything but demanding. "He just kind of tells us, 'I want this to be about you guys.'"

Clearly, Phillips' approach is the right one for now, coming as it does in such stark contrast to Parcells. No wonder the players don't want to let him down. They know what the alternative might be. That does, of course, raise an interesting question that has nothing whatever to do with this year's team: How long can the nice guy approach last?

Much of coaching is based on motivating, and motivating changes all the time. As Phillips says himself, "Every player is different. Every team is different. Every year is different. This same team next year won't be motivated the same way."

But Fasano suggests you could be wrong if you think that after awhile, players who aren't beaten up emotionally will get lazy. One way to view it is that after awhile, just treating players like adults will lead to complacency. On the other hand, Fasano says, "Maybe things would get even better." You mean treating grown men like grown men might enhance responsibility and accountability?

What a concept.

In any case, don't think just because he's not hanging mousetraps from the ceiling or guaranteeing wins on radio shows, Wade Phillips isn't an effective motivator. What he's doing is clearly working with this team.

As he might say himself, as a head coach, like the rest of his team, Wade Phillips is 8-1.

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