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Drama spans far and wide

November 09, 2010|Sam Farmer

Wade Phillips is out in Dallas. Brad Childress is in (for now) in Minnesota. And Donovan McNabb has to wonder just where he stands in Washington.

All of a sudden, the Oakland Raiders are the well-adjusted ones.

That's the way it has gone so far in this topsy-turvy NFL season, when drama and controversies are percolating in some unexpected places.

Weren't the Cowboys and Vikings supposed to be Super Bowl favorites? Wasn't the combination of McNabb and Mike Shanahan going to finally make good on all the promise the Redskins have been selling the last decade?

Now, Dallas is rudderless at 1-7 and Phillips was replaced Monday by offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who was promoted to interim coach.

Childress received a stay of execution with the Vikings after a come-from-behind home victory over the Arizona Cardinals. But he and quarterback Brett Favre -- the player he once chauffeured from the airport -- are clearly reading from different playbooks.

And the Redskins, who did not play last weekend, are coming off a loss to Detroit in which McNabb was benched at the end in favor of Rex Grossman. At first, the word was Grossman would be more adept at the two-minute offense because of his very limited experience in Houston under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, now in Washington. Then, Mike Shanahan said McNabb wasn't in cardiovascular condition to run the offense effectively. Either way, it was a slap in the face of the Pro Bowl quarterback.

Meanwhile, things are cruising along in Oakland, where the 5-4 Raiders are riding their first three-game winning streak since the 2002 season, when they wound up in the Super Bowl.

Life is good in Cleveland too, seeing as the Browns are coming off consecutive upsets of New Orleans and New England, and look to have found their quarterback answer in rookie Colt McCoy.

Even in Buffalo, where the 0-8 Bills are the league's only winless team, there is a tiny flicker of hope. At least the Bills played their last three opponents tough, losing to Baltimore, Kansas City and Chicago by three points each.

The Cowboys, however, have flat given up, stumbling to a 45-7 loss at Green Bay -- in front of a national TV audience -- in what has to be among the most humiliating performances in franchise history. The wind has clearly left the sails of a team whose first five losses were by a touchdown or less.

Phillips is a former defensive coordinator, yet the Cowboys have given up at least 35 points in the last three games, something they hadn't done since their inaugural season in 1960, when they finished 0-11-1.

It got bad enough that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was persuaded to make his first midseason firing, something he vowed in recent weeks not to do.

In explaining his reversal, Jones said: "I know how fleeting your time is to get to play, and how fleeting time is in my case to get to be part of the Dallas Cowboys. So I think you ought to play like it's your last down every down, and I don't think we're having that."

Does the switch to Garrett salvage the season? No, because it came so late and because there's no guarantee he will make a difference, especially considering he was part of the equation that got them where they are. But the move does show Cowboys fans -- and season-ticket holders -- that Jones wasn't going to stubbornly stand pat as the season swirled down the pipes.

Childress is dangling by a thread in Minnesota. After Randy Moss was abruptly released last week, there were reports Vikings owner Zygi Wilf had mulled keeping the receiver and getting rid of the coach.

Things got even weirder after Sunday's game, when Childress responded to questions about his job security by saying he wasn't going to "stand here like Brett Favre and tell you ... I need a hug."

It was a reference to a comment Favre made four days earlier when the quarterback was asked whether Childress was a compassionate coach. Favre said: "Like, give us a hug or something like that? I sure could use one too. ... He hasn't given me one, no. He's OK."

Just more drama in a league where strange is the new normal.

Goodell dismisses Polamalu's idea

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday that, although he's interested in hearing their opinions, active players will not be deciding punishments for flagrant hits that merit fines.

That suggestion was made by Troy Polamalu, All-Pro safety for Pittsburgh, who said defensive players are getting paranoid about how to hit now that the league is cracking down on collisions it wants to ban from the game.

Speaking to reporters before Monday's Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game, Goodell indicated active players won't have a role in those decisions.

"There are league executives involved and there are former players involved," Goodell said. "I think having active players and active front-office executives is something the competition committee has always frowned on."

As far as controversial hits from Week 9, the NFL announced that there will be no fine for Philadelphia safety Kurt Coleman's hit on Indianapolis' Austin Collie, one that knocked the Colts receiver out of the game.

However, Green Bay's Nick Collins was fined $50,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Cowboys receiver Roy Williams.



Coaching roundup

Wade Phillips, fired by Dallas on Monday, was the seventh Cowboys coach. The Cowboys' coaching history:

--Compiled by Sam Farmer

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