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All signs point to Dallas' Phillips returning

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Posted Jan. 18, 2010 @ 5:28 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Although there has not been official word yet, Cowboys players indicated after the loss to the Vikings that Wade Phillips was going to be back next season. The Cowboys hold an option on Phillips' contract for 2010, and owner Jerry Jones apparently will pick it up, though he has made no formal announcement. The question now remains whether Phillips will be entering another lame-duck season or if he will be extended beyond that.

The PFW spin

The Cowboys' playoff loss can be described as nothing short of disappointing and embarrassing from their standpoint. They entered the playoffs hot and were facing a Vikings team that had not played its best ball down the stretch. But Jones apparently is willing to stick with his plan of keeping Phillips — which we hear he decided prior to the playoffs — and trying to win again in 2010.

The players spoke after the loss as if Phillips would be back, although neither Jones nor Phillips spoke on the matter. Phillips has no scheduled media sessions as of now this week, though he and his staff are scheduled to coach the Pro Bowl in Miami the Sunday prior to the Super Bowl.

The Cowboys will host the Super Bowl next season, and Jones clearly has his sights set on not only having the event at his building but also having his team playing in the event. As the NFL likely heads into an uncapped season, the Cowboys could be major players in the free-agent and trade markets without a lot of competition from lower-spending clubs, though as one of the final eight teams in the playoffs they face restrictions in terms of the number of players they can import through free agency.

The offense and defense appear to be in very good shape for the most part, and Phillips' coaching of the defense weighs heavily in his favor. Most of his players are in their prime, and players such as CB Mike Jenkins, WR Miles Austin and OLB Anthony Spencer appear to be on their way to being stars.

Jones said little concrete after the loss in Minnesota but did speak of how the infrastructure of the team has improved for the better.

"This is a totally different thing," Jones said in Minnesota. "We've got a foundation. … I'm not discouraged in any way with where we're going. We've made significant improvement and we'll build off the positives. This (34-3 loss) was disappointing and, frankly, came from nowhere. So I think we'll just again take the positives that we have."

Expect Phillips back for '10, but Jones has a decision to make beyond that.

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