Phillips talks T.O., Romo and gag orders

March, 25, 2009
3/25/09
4:06
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

DANA POINT, Calif. -- Reporters started arriving at Wade Phillips' breakfast table at 6:55 a.m. Wednesday morning. This was supposed to be the one day the Jerry Jones gag order was lifted, although Phillips had gone rogue a couple of times during the NFL owners' meeting.

I arrived on the scene a little late because Andy Reid was kind enough to ask me to share some dry cereal and buttered toast with him as I made my way toward the Phillips table. As he'd told another publication Tuesday, Phillips said he never protested Jones' unprecedented gag order because he'd grown tired of trying to refute the various reports coming out of Valley Ranch. He made a reference to "yellow journalism" and then said that certain members of the media had engaged in "name-calling" that had become far too personal. (He may have been referring to a prominent journalist from Grand Prairie, Texas, who insists on referring to Phillips as "Coach Doofus").

"I won't say I enjoy, but I've talked to the media, all the media and been quite honest with them," said Phillips. "I think they've taken it a little bit far in some situations. I've got to be more mindful now. That's part of it. If people are just going to go after you no matter what you say, then don't say anything in some cases."

But actually Phillips did a nice job addressing several topics. He was typically thin-skinned at times (We're 22-10 for goodness sakes!), but he was also funny and quite forthcoming. The scary thing for Cowboys fans, though, is that Phillips and Jones both seem to think Tony Romo's injury last season was the only thing that held the club back.

"We needed one more win and we would've been a lock in the playoffs," Phillips said. "We lost two of three without Tony. That one game cost us the playoffs."

Phillips said he's excited about having a capable backup quarterback in Jon Kitna, whom the Cowboys obtained in a trade with the Lions. Phillips praised Kitna's arm strength and likes the fact that he's played with Roy Williams.

"Roy Williams loves him," gushed Phillips. "[Kitna's] excited about being a Dallas Cowboy."

Wearing a yellow dress shirt and blue tie, Phillips talked for about 45 minutes. When a reporter from the Palm Beach Post kept asking about the Bill Parcells regime, Phillips pointed to the fact that his regime had gone 22-10 in two years. And he reminded us that the previous group had gone 34-32. For those of us who know Phillips, this is very familiar territory. My former colleague Todd Archer deftly asked a question regarding whether Phillips was grateful to have a third year in Dallas based on the fact he was quickly dismissed in both Denver and Buffalo.

"Well, in most cases it takes four years to find out how good a coach is," Phillips said.

And while that might be true, Phillips isn't the type personality who's given four years to succeed. The coach also took time to praise T.O. for his contribution over the past two seasons.

"He works hard, he tries to win and he has great talent and produces," said Phillips. "The big thing is replacing his numbers. We have some young players that will help us do that."

Phillips also joined Jones in praising the work of undrafted wide receiver Miles Austin.

"He's a good receiver," said Phillips. "He was really coming on last year when he got banged up. That hurt his progress. He has the speed, size and hands. I think he has the chance to be a real force for us."

Short lunch break (two hours sound OK?) and then I'll be back with more.

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