IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – CBS 11 Sports has confirmed that Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips has been fired.
Jason Garrett has been named the new interim head coach. Garrett had previously been the Cowboys assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. Garrett, 44, becomes the first former Dallas Cowboys player to become head coach. Paul Pasqualoni, who is currently the team’s defensive line coach, will be the team’s defensive coordinator.
The Cowboys are off to their worst start since 1989, with a 1-7 record. That record includes five straight losses.
This is the first time, in Dallas Cowboys history, that a head coach has been fired mid-season.
Phillips was the seventh coach in Cowboys history (take a look at the Cowboys coaches through the years) and came to the team with more than 30 years of NFL coaching experience. In his four+ seasons with the Cowboys, Phillips complied a 34-22 record.
The Cowboys had entered the 2010 season with a division title and a playoff win, and was expected to be a Super Bowl contender in the NFL championship that will be held at Cowboys Stadium.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had supported Phillips throughout the downward spiral, even saying late last week that Phillips would keep the head coaching job through the rest of the year.
But after Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, Jones said, “I’m concerned. I can’t put my finger on it, because I don’t have enough fingers. There are a lot of people here that are going to suffer consequences, and I’m talking about within the team – players, coaches that have careers. This [another loss] is certainly a setback.”
When asked how Phillips was notified Jones said, “I visited with him personally. I visited with him this morning.”
Click below to hear fans react to the Wade Phillips news:
Players were told about the firing during a team meeting at 3 p.m. Jones addressed the media during a press conference one hour later, and stressed the importance of “changing the culture” of the struggling Cowboys team.
“When we lost Tony [Romo], we didn’t have the base of wins that would allow us to withstand an injury,” Jones said. “Teams do that. The team we played last night overcame injuries … we didn’t do that.”
Jones added that he and Garrett would be focusing on the final games of the season, and he expected to see an “extraordinary effort” out of the players to round out the season. “The facts are that I intend to do everything we can to have players play to win, and coaches coach to win,” Jones said.
“My concern is not about the longer term, it’s about these next eight games,” Jones said. “Jason has certainly been a part of long term thinking for the Dallas Cowboys and for me. But what we’re addressing on an interim basis is how to maximize how we’re playing right now, this week in practice and with the Giants.
Now, the Cowboys move forward and Jones said there might still be some surprises for opponents.
“I want to see the kind of effort that is incorporated in playing to win. The kind of effort that you might not expect to see from a team that’s one and seven, right now,” he said.
Garrett is a Princeton University graduate who has been the team’s offensive coordinator since 2007. Jones noted that some of the best offensive seasons in team history came under Garrett and he would consider extending his interim coaching deal based on the “success” of the team moving forward.
“There was a lot of me in denial for at least the last couple of ball games, but where we are right now is that we have got to be able to do what everybody does in the NFL, which is get a defense that can slow them down,” Jones said.
That job falls to Pasqualoni, the team’s defensive line coach. Pasqualoni notched most of his experience at the collegiate level, where he put in 29 years, 14 of which were as head coach at Syracuse. He spent 2005 through 2007 with the Cowboys, then had a stint with the Miami Dolphins from 2008 to 2009. He returned to Dallas after that.
About an hour after the Cowboys news conference ended, Phillips, who did not attend Jones’ press conference, issued the following statement –
“I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the fans of the Cowboys and to the entire Jones family for all of the support that we received here in Dallas. I would also like to thank our coaches and players for their loyalty and dedication.
I told the team today that I have been proud to be a part of their family, and that will never change. I have enjoyed the privilege and responsibility of representing this franchise as its head coach.
I am disappointed in the results of this season to this point, but I am also very proud of what our team and our players accomplished in the previous three years. In good times and difficult times, our players stuck together and never lost hold of their belief in each other and the strong team bond that they have shared. Family and coaching football have always defined my life and I will always be grateful for my experiences here with the Dallas Cowboys.”
The Cowboys face off against the New York Giants this Sunday.
CBS 11 Sports is covering this story and will continue to have more details as they become available.