HONOLULU – The Dallas Cowboys could come back to one of their first candidates to fill their head coaching job.
According to two sources within the Cowboys organization, San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips appears to be the leader to take the job.
"The way Jerry is talking, it sounds like it's going to be [Phillips]," one of the sources said Wednesday.
Although owner Jerry Jones appeared to be most interested in former Cowboys and current San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Norv Turner, Phillips – one of 10 candidates interviewed for the opening – has emerged as the top choice for a variety of reasons.
The most prominent reason is that Jones might be taking a more logical approach to the process after already hiring former Miami Dolphins quarterback coach Jason Garrett to be the offensive coordinator. The widely held belief is that Jones eventually wants the 40-year-old Garrett to be the team's head coach. When Dallas asked Miami for permission to interview Garrett, the request was for Garrett to either be the head coach or offensive coordinator.
Hiring Turner, who is a close friend of Garrett, could ultimately be messy. Turner would want to run the offense and might not want to leave as coach when Garrett is ready to take over.
"Garrett can just install the offense that Norv is going to put in anyway, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to have both of those guys," the source said.
By contrast, the 59-year-old Phillips would be able to run the 3-4 defense that former Dallas coach Bill Parcells installed and might be more willing to step aside when Garrett is ready to take over as coach.
Phillips spent five years total as head coach with the Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills and did two interim stops with the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. Overall, he is 48-39 in the regular season and 0-3 in the playoffs.
As for Garrett, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo said he was looking forward to working with the new offensive coordinator after speaking to Garrett briefly last week and after talking to former Dallas players about him.
"Guys like [former Dallas quarterback] Troy [Aikman] just love Jason. They think he's great," said Romo, one of the NFC's three Pro Bowl quarterbacks. "I've heard he's really smart and easy to communicate with, so I'm really looking forward to it."