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Looks Like Coach Phil Isn't the Only Coach Under Pressure...

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Looks Like Coach Phil Isn't the Only Coach Under Pressure...

Postby MrMustang1965 » Sun Jul 31, 2005 3:42 pm

Not that I care what happens to the Dallas Plowboys but it's interesting that the head coach of the Dallas Plowboys is kind of in the same boat as Coach Phil...

IRVING – Bill Parcells, the Dallas Cowboys head coach the last 942 days, finally has everything he wants. Owner Jerry Jones made sure of that this off-season.

Parcells has the 3-4 defensive scheme he wanted. He has the coaching staff he wanted. He even has the college and pro scouting director he wanted. Then Jones spent more than $30 million in signing bonuses to secure the free agents Parcells wanted.

Now it's time for Parcells to give Jones what he wants: a winner.

"When things don't go well, you evaluate and scrutinize things more closely. It's just human nature," Parcells said. "When things don't go well, you have to look at all of the reasons in a comprehensive way to see what might have happened."

Jones used a four-year, $17.1 million contract to lure Parcells out of retirement three years ago because the Cowboys had become a moribund franchise. The return on Jones' investment, thus far, has been a 16-16 record and one playoff appearance that ended with a blowout loss in the first round.

The Cowboys haven't won a playoff game since 1996 – the eight-year drought ties the longest in franchise history – and their .387 regular-season winning percentage (31 wins, 49 losses) since the start of the new millennium is one of the NFL's worst. It should come as no surprise that Jones wants to see results this season.

After all, this is clearly Parcells' team. Of the 84 players on the training camp roster, only 12 – including five starters and kicker Billy Cundiff – predate the Cowboys' 63-year-old coach. He has orchestrated the last three drafts, and each of the three quarterbacks on the roster has been signed during his reign.

"When we finish up this year we need to have a good future," Jones said last week, "and we need – in my opinion – to have given ourselves the opportunity at certain times this season to think big.

"Three years ago, I wouldn't have expected to dismiss this year as a building year or a year where we're getting ready for better years in the future. Hopefully, it won't be that way at the end of this year."

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells tutored defensive linemen on Saturday.
When Jones hired Parcells, the critics predicted their relationship would never work long term.

It couldn't, they said.

They were too much alike, the critics bellowed. They couldn't share the spotlight. Parcells couldn't or wouldn't be able to handle Jones' meddling, and Jones wouldn't be able to handle Parcells' desire for control of virtually every aspect of the organization.

So far, so good.

There haven't been any major blowups between Parcells and Jones that would fracture their relationship. Now, that doesn't mean there haven't been arguments or disputes. That happens in every workplace.

"At the end of the day," Jones said, "we're both motivated to do whatever it takes to win ballgames. I have an appreciation for his skills, so I don't want to be careless with the relationship. I don't want to presume anything, and I know firsthand – he's told me – that he's sensitive about his relationship with me."

The key is communication.

During the season, the two men often speak several times a day. Each has an open-door policy with the other. Vice president Stephen Jones and public relations director Rich Dalrymple serve as buffers, if needed.

"There's nothing behind the doors here. It's all upfront," Jones said. "A lot of people communicate with both of us, and that helps if we sense somebody being uncomfortable – and that's a good thing."

Dalrymple said Jones has learned from his relationships with his previous four head coaches. Jones' relationship with former coach Jimmy Johnson, who led the Cowboys to Super Bowl titles in 1992 and 1993, deteriorated, in part, because of poor communication.

"Stephen and I are just another set of eyes," Dalrymple said. "If I hear or read something, I try to tell Bill or Jerry the context of the question or the statement, if they have any questions. We don't want any misinterpretations."

Parcells finally took a vacation a few weeks ago after spending much of the off-season scouring film of potential draft picks and free agents, while monitoring the progress of players on the roster. He returned to the club's Valley Ranch training complex last week in preparation for his third season.

Stephen Jones said he likes the direction and foundation Parcells has given the organization. He likes the standard of excellence Parcells sets for players, and he likes the discipline.

The day before Parcells' first training camp practice in 2003, the Cowboys released cornerback Keith Davis after he had suffered minor gunshot wounds in a strip club parking lot. Parcells tells his players not to visit strip clubs. A few months later, Parcells released cornerback Derek Ross during the season because the coach grew weary of such antics as being late for meetings.

Last year, the Cowboys traded talented receiver Antonio Bryant four months after he threw a sweaty jersey in the coach's face during an off-season practice.

This is Parcells' team, and the players know that. He has more authority than any Cowboys head coach since Johnson.

"There's no question it takes time to weed out people who don't buy into the program," Stephen Jones said. "That's the tough part of changing coaches because you know you're going to have to go through the process. Even though we weren't as successful as we wanted to be last year, he's got everyone committed."

That includes the coach himself. Some might say Parcells is too committed.

While he has a passing game coordinator in Sean Payton and a running game coordinator in Tony Sparano, Parcells is expected to call the plays this season just like he has done the last two seasons. The difference is that Dallas is implementing the 3-4 defense, a scheme that uses three down linemen and four linebackers.

Parcells knows the scheme better than any coach on defense.

It's the scheme he used in 13 of his first 15 seasons as an NFL head coach. It's the scheme that earned him two Super Bowl rings with the New York Giants and a Super Bowl appearance with the New England Patriots.

And it's a scheme that defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has never coached.

Linebackers coach Gary Gibbs played in the 3-4 as a college player at Oklahoma, and secondary coach Todd Bowles practiced it as a member of Parcells' staff with the Jets. No one else on the defensive staff has much familiarity with it.

Zimmer spent the off-season studying the scheme and learning its nuances, but it should be safe to assume that he's going to lean on Parcells for help at times – even if it's to make sure the coaching staff is on the same page conceptually before presenting information to the players.

That could mean extra hours for a coach who admittedly wears down during the season because of the hours he works and the physical toll each game takes on him.

Parcells, who has been on a jogging program and lost weight, disagrees with the theory.

"I felt like I had to increase my energy level during the season. I want to be able to stay on their [expletive] every day," he said. "I've been running a lot harder than I've ever run in a lot of years."

Larry Lacewell, the Cowboys director of pro and college scouting for a decade, had a similar issue when he was head coach at Arkansas State. Lacewell, a defensive coordinator at Oklahoma in the '70s when the Sooners won two national championships, found himself spread too thin after he took over the play-calling duties.

"I tried to coach every position and do everything, and we finished 3-8 and 2-9," he said with a chuckle. "It's hard to do everything. You have to let your other coaches coach."

Payton and Zimmer each earn more than $1 million per year. It's money that Jones pays expecting results.

Jones said he expects Parcells to devote his time to guiding the coaches on defense and having a direct impact on the offense.

"There's nothing wrong with being concerned about him, physically and mentally, but our assessment is that he'll be able to come up with the right delegation," Jones said.

Then, maybe, the Cowboys can become winners again.
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