The Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has again insisted that coach Wade Phillips' job is not in jeopardy.
The Cowboys deny Phillips faces the axe
The Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has again insisted that coach Wade Phillips' job is not in jeopardy. In a season that has resembled a soap opera, the Cowboys (9-6) need a win in today's finale at the Philadelphia Eagles to make the play-offs. Victory would clinch a wild card spot for the Cowboys and ensure that their season will go on into January.
Not making the post-season would be a huge disappointment for a team that began the year with Super Bowl aspirations, but Jones indicated that the outcome of today's game will have no bearing on Phillips' job status. "Can I be any clearer?" Jones said. "I've already said it - this coaching staff is in place." "As I stand here right now, I see a team, from our personnel to our coaching staff, that is in place and ready to compete for a championship," he added.
In his second season with the Cowboys, Phillips has posted a 22-9 record. Last season, he guided the Cowboys to an NFC-best 13-3 mark, but they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants in the divisional round of the play-offs. However, this season has been marked by numerous off-the-field issues, including a four-game suspension for Adam "Pacman" Jones' and recent comments by wide receiver Terrell Owens that he is not getting the ball enough.
The Cowboys have not won a play-off game since 1996 and Phillips is 0-4 in the post-season. Meanwhile, the Cowboys will make a late decision on running back Marion Barber's availability for the clash with the Eagles as he continues to struggle with injury. Barber has not started the previous two games for the Cowboys due to a dislocated toe on his right foot and has been ineffective in limited playing time during that span, gaining just two yards on 10 carries.
The bruising tailback, who suffered the injury on Thanksgiving Day, has been limited in training this week and is officially listed as questionable. He has run for 872 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Phillips said: "Barber is still a game-time decision like he's been the last few weeks." Second choice running back Tashard Choice is likely to shoulder most of the load against Philadelphia (8-6-1).
A fourth-round pick in April's draft, Choice has done a terrific job filling in for Barber over the past three games, averaging more than 141 yards against three of the toughest defences in the NFL -the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New York Giants and the Baltimore Ravens. The tight end Jason Witten (ankle) has also been limited in training during last week but is expected to play. Witten leads the team with 74 catches.
"I think he'll play but to what extent we'll see," Phillips added. * With Agencies