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Tavern talk: Phillips still has lots to prove

Too soon to give Cowboys coach an extension. Michael Lombardi

Print This November 11, 2009, 05:25 PM EST

“Since there's been absolutely nothing in my mind but the fact I have an option for him next year, that's as far as we need to go,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on his weekly radio show. “And I'm proud that today we've had some success and that the things Wade (Phillips) can bring to the table are showing....It wouldn't benefit our fans at all for me to discuss his status for next year.”

I agree with Jones regarding extension talk about Wade Phillips. What message would he be sending to the locker room if he rewarded Phillips with a new deal? Every player, after three or four good games, would be knocking on Jerry’s door looking for new deal. The standard of excellence can’t be changed, and for the Cowboys that means a Super Bowl, not a four-game win streak. Anything he would attempt to do regarding Phillips’ contract might backfire on him if things go wrong the next eight games. The season is only half over. Remember last year at this time? The Cowboys were 5-3, the Redskins were 6-2 and the Jets, Bills and Bucs were each 5-3. All of them failed to make the playoffs. There’s too much football to be played to talk about extensions.

Now, I’m not suggesting that it’s Super Bowl or bust for Wade, but clearly he must do more than just win six games. He has to prove he can lead this team to the playoffs and win a postseason game to earn future security. He must keep the team on its current path in terms of its execution on both sides of the ball. When you win games in November, the next game is always the toughest, and Sunday in Green Bay, the Cowboys will face a desperate team. It will take the Cowboys playing their best to win, despite the recent struggles of the Packers.

Don’t confuse this decision not to address an extension for Phillips as anything more than Jones being aware of the negative message it would send to his players, his organization and his fan base. Negative only in the sense that the season is just half over. Anything can happen from here on, as we all know in the NFL. If Phillips can maintain the winning ways, he will be rewarded and have nothing to worry about.

No one wants this to work out more than Jones. He likes the current setup, he loves being intimately involved in running the team, and he would never want to go back to the days of limited involvement. So he has more at stake than money. And for Wade, that’s the best sense of security he could ever hope for.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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