Kindred spirits: Lovie Smith and Wade Phillips
So you think Chicago coach Lovie Smith might be overextending himself by taking over the Bears' defensive playing? You might want to check out what happened Tuesday in Dallas, where owner Jerry Jones confirmed that coach Wade Phillips would serve as his own defensive coordinator in 2009.
I've been told that things always get done bigger in Texas, and true to form, the Cowboys' move is a step beyond what Smith plans. Because Jones isn't replacing the fired Brian Stewart, Phillips will call the defensive signals and presumably be responsible for conceiving and implementing the defensive gameplan.
That's more than what Smith has laid out for himself. Smith has said he will call most of the defensive signals on game day and has assigned defensive coordinator Bob Babich to coach linebackers. But Babich also retained his title and will have some say in day-to-day management of the defense. Assistant head coach/defensive line coach Rod Marinelli will also have a level of authority.
(There have also been indications in Seattle that coach Jim Mora will handle a large portion of the defensive play-calling.)
I suspect that people who follow and write about the Cowboys will see this move as a subtle shift toward offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, and the politics of the situation make it almost apples and oranges in comparison to the Bears. But, as the season approaches, it'll be interesting to note that Smith is not the only head coach to have taken on additional defensive duties.