When the Los Angeles Rams come to AT&T Stadium to play the Cowboys it will be a return to Texas for Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who was head coach of the Cowboys from 2007 to 2010. Dallas defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2009 wild-card game under Phillips, ending a 12-year drought in which the Cowboys hadn't won a playoff game.
In 2009, Phillips, considered a defensive specialist, took over as the defensive coordinator for the Cowboys as well. The Dallas defense gave up the second-fewest points to opponents in that 2009 season. Current Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was the offensive coordinator during Phillips' tenure. Garrett, who has also coached against Phillips' defenses, remembered the way he developed players within his system.
"He has a great way of helping individual players on his teams play well, and certainly they play well as a unit," Garrett said Thursday. "There's a scheme that he's played for years and years and years. [It's] something that he believes in, something they've played well at all his different stops, but also there's an evolution in what he does. You see that in the pressures he uses and the coverages they play."
The Rams have given up the 11th-fewest points in the NFL this season and the 8th- fewest total yards. The Cowboys defense ranks directly behind them in both of those categories.
Jason Witten was a Pro Bowl player for each of Phillips' seasons with the Cowboys and is still grateful for his time with him.
"I'm a better football player because of my experience playing under him," Witten said. "He's just an incredible man."
Phillips has had a lot of stops in his coaching career, but a rare feat for his legacy is that he has been a coach who has not only been successful and respected but also well-liked by many of his current and former players.
"He's a great example for all of us," Witten said. "I learned a lot from him in the three and a half years I was with him. I learned a lot about football, but probably more important, how to be the right type of pro."