IRVING, Texas — Wade Phillips, the head coach with the highest winning percentage in Dallas Cowboys' history, has some job security.
Owner/general manager Jerry Jones announced Thursday that Phillips' contract has been extended through the 2011 season.
"I'm encouraged by the progress that we made this year, but in no way are we satisfied," Jones said. "This contract represents that. Two years in the NFL is an eternity, but it has to be urgent."
The Cowboys are 33-15 in three regular seasons under Phillips, the second-best record in the NFL during that span behind the New England Patriots. Dallas is 1-2 in the playoffs under Phillips, ending a franchise-record postseason win drought that dated to the 1996 season with their 34-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild-card round.
This will be the first time Phillips survived past three seasons as a head coach. He was fired in favor of Mike Shanahan after going 16-16 in two seasons with the Denver Broncos. He had a 29-19 record in three seasons as the Buffalo Bills' head coach. Phillips did not win a playoff game in either of his previous stops as a head coach.
Jones fielded questions about Phillips' job status on a weekly basis during the second half of the season. Jones started strongly hinting that Phillips would return after the Cowboys' Dec. 19 win over the previously undefeated New Orleans Saints. However, Jones never publicly committed to retaining his head coach until a Tuesday interview with ESPN, when he added that negotiations were underway to work out details beyond the option year.
It was initially reported Thursday on ESPN.com and earlier this week on the Cowboys' official Web site that the contract would take Phillips through the 2012 season. But due to a last-minute change, the finalized extension ended with the 2011 season.
Jones has stressed the need for continuity on the coaching staff since December 2008, when he opted not to fire Phillips despite a disappointing 9-7 season that ended with a 44-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles with a playoff berth at stake.
That's a significant shift in philosophy from an owner who fired Tom Landry, who coached the Cowboys for the franchise's first 29 years, and has employed six head coaches. Jones, who parted ways with Jimmy Johnson after back-to-back Super Bowl championships, cites firing new Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey after two seasons as one of his biggest regrets.