One of the biggest themes throughout this season was that there is a lack of leadership on this team. I don't know how you can argue that Wade Phillips is a good leader. There was a moment in the last game of the season when I finally knew that Wade Phillips no longer had the respect of his team or his coaching staff.
The Cowboys were faced with 4th and less than a yard on their own 42. They were still down 27-3 but there was still a very faint glimmer of hope that they could mount a comeback. Wade Phillips immediately called for a punt. Tony Romo gestured toward him that he wanted to go for it and Wade Phillips said "punt" again to Tony but this time he said it more forcefully. Tony waived him off and then proceeded to look towards Jason Garrett for a play call. They lined up and made the first down on a quick snap quarterback sneak, but the damage had been done. Wade Phillips had been exposed as a coach who had lost his team.
So the big question is whether there are enough leaders on the team to make up for a lack of leadership at the top of the team. We all know Jerry Jones is the ultimate decider for the franchise but I am talking about the people who will step up on the field when the chips are down and the pressure is on.
I would argue that the leaders are in place but they have to assert themselves in the key moments of the game. Two of the teams still playing have two of the best leaders in the NFL. Ray Lewis has no problem getting the Ravens fired up when the time comes. Brian Dawkins foams at the mouth with emotion for the Eagles. We need someone to lead like these guys do.
Jason Witten is a leader by example. Who in the NFL played through more injuries than Jason this year? You can't help but follow someone who plays the game like he does. It is time for Jason to assert himself as a vocal leader of this team.
Tony Romo is the quarterback. That means he is the team leader by default. Whether it comes naturally to him or not he needs to be the guy who gets the team going when they are struggling. He appears to sit passively on the bench during many of the key moments during the game. He has to step up and get the offense fired up when things aren't clicking.
Marion Barber is the emotional leader of the offense. It was obvious that we missed his spark after his injury this year. He needs to get healthy and pick up where he left off before the injury.
DeMarcus Ware is the playmaker of the defense. He is an all-around nice guy off the field and almost seems soft-spoken, but he has to step up and lead the defense on the field. He is the best player on the defense so he commands the respect of the players. He needs to take advantage of the position his talent puts him in and be a vocal leader.
Brady James is another leader by default. He already gets the attention of the defense in the huddle since he makes the calls. He needs to get the defense fired up for the big plays in the game.
Keith Davis is the leader of the special teams. He is great at what he does. Hopefully he can go back to focusing on leading the special teams after we find someone who can play safety for us.
Jason Garrett needs to step up and lead the team from a coaching perspective. He is the assistant head coach and the head coach is not getting it done. He seemed to know how to get guys going on Hard Knocks during training camp last year. If he comes back next year then he needs to take a bigger role in leading the team.
If Wade Phillips is not going to lead this team then someone else is going to have to step up and do it. We have the people in place who can, but the big question is will they do it?