IRVING, Texas - Wade Phillips is sticking around as coach of the Dallas Cowboys for two more years.
Dallas won the NFC East for the second time in Phillips' three seasons. The team also won its first playoff game since 1996 and the first in Phillips' head coaching career. The Cowboys are 34-17 over his three seasons in charge. Only three NFL teams have won more games in that span.
"We want to build on the foundation we have put in place over the last three years," team owner Jerry Jones said Thursday, when announcing Phillips' new two-year deal. "I want to take advantage of the continuity."
Jones could have picked up an option for 2010 that was part of the three-year deal Phillips signed when he replaced Bill Parcells following the 2006 season. There also was speculation Phillips would get another three-year deal, but Jones said he opted instead to only go through 2011 because "two years in the NFL is an eternity."
"There's no comfort zone about it," Jones said. "It addresses the urgency of where we want to go from here."
Jones would not give any specifics about the financial terms, although he made it clear there would be a hefty bonus for reaching a Super Bowl.
"Is he being overpaid? Not one penny," Jones said. "Is he being underpaid? Probably, for what I think he is. The bottom line is we have something that works. He has great incentive to doing what he wants to do anyway."
Phillips had been among the league's lowest-paid head coaches at around US$3 million per season. This past year, he also took on the role of defensive co-ordinator, and Jones called him "the MVP of the defence."
"The money is not the most important thing, I can tell you that," Phillips said.
He also said he was fine with the length of the deal, which does not include an option for 2012.
"It doesn't matter if it's one year or 10 years," he said. "With this team right now, I feel very comfortable. I think we can go further and we will go further."
The Cowboys have gone a franchise-worst 14 seasons without winning or reaching a Super Bowl. Next season, the Super Bowl will be at Cowboys Stadium, and Jones has long wanted to become the first host team to play in the big game.
"I feel like we're going to be knocking on the door," he said.
Then a smiling Phillips jumped in with a line made famous by his dad, Bum Phillips, when he coached the Houston Oilers: "We're going to kick that SOB in, too."
Jones added that he expects to bring back the entire coaching staff, including three assistants whose contracts expire after this season. Among them is Phillips' son, Wes, who is in charge of offensive quality control.
"That's what Wade wanted and that's what we'll do," Jones said.
Phillips just finished his 33rd year in the NFL, 28 of them spent as either a defensive co-ordinator or head coach. He's 62.
If Phillips finishes this contract, he will match Jimmy Johnson as the longest-tenured coach during Jones' ownership. Phillips already has the highest winning percentage among Cowboys coaches, topping Johnson, Tom Landry and Barry Switzer. However, he's lumped in with Parcells, Chan Gailey and Dave Campo as Dallas coaches who haven't won a Super Bowl.
"We've produced well, but that isn't good enough," Phillips said. "I think we have a lot better opportunity to do that now."