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ESPN: Cowboys owner: Stretch key to Phillips' future


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Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones remains noncommittal on coach Wade Phillips' status beyond this season, saying the team's performance down the stretch would play a significant role in his decision.

"The outcome of games ultimately do weigh in on decisions," Jones said Friday on KRLD-FM in Dallas. "And the ones at the end probably have a little bit more weight than the ones at the beginning of the season."

Phillips is in the final year of his contract, but Jones can pick up an option for next season.

The Cowboys are 30-15 under Phillips, but they are 3-7 in December games and 0-1 in the playoffs. They have lost six of their last seven games played in December, including back-to-back losses to the New York Giants and San Diego Chargers that dropped the Cowboys out of first place in the NFC East.

The Cowboys lost three of four December games last season and missed the playoffs. They would have clinched a wild-card berth with a win in one of the last two games, but the Baltimore Ravens ruined the Texas Stadium finale and the Philadelphia Eagles handed the Cowboys the most lopsided loss of Jones' two-decade tenure as owner.

The Cowboys (8-5), who face the undefeated New Orleans Saints on the road Saturday night, are fighting for a playoff berth again.

A year ago, Jones was consistently adamant that Phillips would return as the Cowboys' coach, stressing the need for continuity. Now, Jones is open to the idea of change, although he avoids discussing specific candidates.

"We need to win as a team," Jones said, when asked if the next three games determined Phillips' fate. "We need to be successful in these next three games, and we need to get into the playoffs. It's going to be very disappointing if we don't."

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