- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2007

Norv Turner, not Wade Phillips, figured to be introduced today as Dallas’ coach.

When Turner and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones high-fived on national television when ex-Cowboy Michael Irvin was elected to the Hall of Fame last Saturday, it seemed the fix was for the offensive coordinator of Jones’ first two Super Bowl champions in the 1992 and 1993 seasons, unless Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera or Indianapolis quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, both minority candidates, wowed Jones in their interviews this week.

Three factors might have tilted Jones toward San Diego defensive boss Phillips, whose departure leaves Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer looking for a coordinator for the second time in a month. The Chargers lost offensive coordinator Cam Cameron — a Turner protege — to Miami’s head coaching vacancy.

After putting up with Michael Westbrook, Randy Moss and Jerry Porter in his first two head coaching stops in Washington and Oakland, Turner wasn’t looking forward to dealing with Terrell Owens, an even bigger headache. And Jones doesn’t want to part with the talented Owens, whose antics helped drive coach Bill Parcells into retirement in January.

Then there was Jason Garrett, hired by Jones last month as an offensive assistant.

Word is that the 40-year-old former Cowboys third-string quarterback is the head coach-in-waiting, an idea that probably didn’t appeal to San Francisco coordinator Turner, who didn’t want his likely successor messing with his offense and looking over his shoulder.

And while Turner might have been able to lure Rivera, whose contract is expiring, away from the parsimonious NFC champions for a similar job with the Cowboys, Phillips excelled in San Diego with the 3-4 defense, the scheme that Parcells installed in Dallas and that Jones would prefer to keep using. Jones wants Phillips to turn 2005 first-round draft choice DeMarcus Ware into the next Shawne Merriman. Rivera runs a 4-3 scheme with the Bears.

So, Turner, 50-60-1 in Washington from 1994 to 2000 and 9-23 with Oakland in 2004-05, didn’t make history by being given a full-time head coaching job with a third team after posting losing records with his first two.

Jack Pardee, 20-23 with the Bears from 1975 to 1977 and 24-24 with the Redskins from 1978 to 1980 before being hired by Houston in 1990, came closest to accomplishing that dubious feat. Marion Campbell did get a third chance after failing in his first two jobs, but “The Swamp Fox” was hired twice by the same owner in Atlanta. Walt Kiesling was well under .500 in his first two shots before getting a third, but all three were with Pittsburgh.

This is the third chance for the 59-year-old Phillips, not counting his interim stints in New Orleans and Atlanta. Phillips, the son of former Saints and Oilers coach Bum Phillips, was 16-16 in Denver from 1993 to 1994 and 29-19 in Buffalo from 1998 to 2000. But Phillips is 0-3 in the playoffs, a fact that couldn’t sit too well with Jones, whose Cowboys have the same 0-3 postseason record over the last decade. Turner, 54, is 1-1 in the postseason.

Where are the Redskins? — Art Monk’s seventh straight rejection by the Hall of Fame selectors leaves the Redskins of Joe Gibbs’ first tenure with just one enshrined player: John Riggins, who retired in 1985 after two Super Bowl appearances and one championship. So a team that went on to win two more Super Bowls, reach a third NFC title game and qualify for the playoffs five times in the next seven years doesn’t have a Hall of Fame player.

Meanwhile, the mediocre St. Louis Cardinals (two playoff berths, zero victories) and Detroit Lions (one, zero) of the 1970s have six Hall of Fame selections: Lem Barney, Dan Dierdorf, Charlie Sanders, Jackie Smith, Roger Wehrli and Larry Wilson.

Everyone says former Redskins cornerback Darrell Green is a lock to be elected next year, but Monk, who retired in 1995 as the all-time leading receiver, was supposed to be a gimme, too. Steve Largent, whose record Monk broke in 1992, was elected in his first year of eligibility. So while Green played at a higher level than any cornerback into his late 30s, he’s no sure thing either. After all, he was a Redskin.

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