IRVING, Texas - Cowboys coach Wade Phillips will take over the bulk of the defensive play-calling from defensive coordinator Brian Stewart in Sunday's game against the Bucs.
The decision was made because of the defense's recent struggles. The unit was tied for ninth in the NFL in Week 3 but is now 11th.
Phillips said he will take a more active role in all phases of the defense. He denied that owner-general manager Jerry Jones told him to do so.
"I don't want to get into who does what, really," Phillips said. "We have a game plan, and we're going to try to execute that game plan defensively, offensively and special-teams-wise."
Stewart, who will not lose his title, called the defensive plays the past two seasons, with input from Phillips. He will still have a heavy role in the game planning and said he doesn't believe he was demoted.
"If I got demoted, I probably wouldn't be smiling," he said.
Stewart coached with Phillips in San Diego from 2004-06. And Stewart was one of Phillips' first hires when he became Cowboys coach in 2007.
In explaining why he will take a more active defensive role, Phillips has not been critical of Stewart but has not defended him, either. Asked whether his relationship with Stewart made the decision more difficult, Phillips said, "Brian will do whatever he wants. He always has.
"I'm just trying to help more; that's all I'm doing. Nothing has changed except I'm going to be helping more and be more involved than I had been."
The defense has problems, and Stewart has received most of the criticism.
The secondary has two interceptions, tied for 29th in the league. The defense is tied for 28th in turnover ratio at minus-6. Dallas ranks 16th against the pass and 13th against the run. Opposing quarterbacks are completing 62.6 percent of their passes, compared with 58 percent last season after seven games.
Injuries to starting cornerback Terence Newman, who could return, and strong safety Roy Williams, who is out for the season, have hurt the secondary. The team also lost cornerback Adam Jones to a suspension for violations of the league's conduct policy.