The Dallas Cowboys aren't changing coaches. Instead, coach Wade Phillips plans to change.
After seeing Super Bowl hopes fizzle into a 9-7 season that wasn't good enough to make the playoffs, team owner Jerry Jones has vowed to bring back Phillips, and Phillips vowed yesterday to do things differently.
"We know things must improve. The only way is to change things," Phillips said. "To get to the standard we want, I don't see any other way."
This was Phillips' second season in Dallas and his second straight devastating finish.
The Cowboys went 13-3 last year and owned the No. 1 seed in the NFC, only to lose their first playoff game; the fact it was at home a week after Tony Romo, some teammates and their significant others went to a resort in Mexico only made it worse. This time, Dallas overcame injuries and infighting to have a chance to make the playoffs by winning the finale, only to come out emotionless and error-prone in a 44-6 loss to Philadelphia.
"You can't say, 'Well, OK, everything's going to be all right,' because it's not going to be all right if you do the same thing and I'm talking about myself," Phillips said. "I have to look at myself from how I deal with things, from how we have training camp, how we have practices, whatever."
In other team news, linebacker Bradie James met with the media to clear up an incident he had with a fan who was standing outside the driveway into team headquarters wearing a sandwich board that read "Our team has no heart" on the front, and "Wade is an embarrassment to the star" on the back.
James tore the sign off the man, breaking his sunglasses. James then went to his locker, got a pair of expensive shades he'd been given and returned with an apology, a handshake and a gift. Police came and left without taking any action.
" I told him, 'I share your frustrations. But where we differ is I wouldn't go to anybody's job, especially not up here with 300-pound guys, trying to tell them what they didn't do right.' " James said.
* Tampa Bay running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams knee injury - the second he's suffered in the past 15 months - is not as severe as the first. Williams said hetore the patellar tendon in his left knee during Sunday's season-ending loss to Oakland. He suffered a career-threatening injury to his right knee in September 2007 and was sidelined until 6 weeks ago. Williams said this injury should be simpler to repair and require less recovery time.
* Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not stay in a hospital overnight after receiving a concussion Sunday against Cleveland, but it was uncertain if he will practice this week. The team said it expects him to be ready for its Jan. 11 divisional playoff.
* According to the preliminary draft order released by the league, Detroit will have two of the top 20 picks in the April draft. Detroit became the first team in NFL history to finish 0-16. The winless season earned the Lions the No. 1 overall pick as well as the No. 20 selection. Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos won the tiebreaker among five teams that finished 8-8 and will choose No. 12 overall. Similarly, the New York Jets won the tiebreaker among five 9-7 teams and will pick No. 17. The Eagles have two first round picks, Nos. 22 and 28.
* The Bears, according to reports out of Chicago, have announced that Kyle Orton will be their incumbent starting quarterback heading into training camp. *