Defining Parcells’ Ultimate Failure


Bill ParcellsThis debate may not end any time soon, no matter who Dallas hires: was the Bill Parcells era a failure? You can glance at my recent posts to discover that I think it was, but I think it was a failure not because he did not win a Super Bowl but rather because the team’s performance generally did not meet expectations, save the five-game winning streak in 2003. Let’s visit a few points:

(1) Parcells was not hired to make the team more talented than it was prior to his arrival. The team that he compiled is certainly better than the one that he inherited, but then again, Parcells certainly was not hampered by past decisions when he joined the Cowboys. The same could not be said of Dave Campo, who had to deal with the fact that Jerry traded away to first round picks for Joey Galloway and that the Cowboys were in salary cap hell. That Parcells was only four wins better than Campo was when he did not have the same restraints speaks volumes of what Parcells failed to accomplish here.

(2) Parcells also left us with more holes than we realized. The offensive line may need to be rebuilt completely, given that Adams and Rivera are aging, Gurode is a free agent, and Kosier only had his moments. Colombo looked pretty good, but he still needs to make improvements.

(3) Defensively, we have six players who were first-round picks (Newman, Williams, Carpenter, Ware, Spears, and Ellis) and two players who were paid like first-rounders (Henry and Ferguson). Yet we are left to think that we might have a pretty good defense.

(4) Lastly, I would emphasize that Parcells lucked into finding Romo, for if Bledsoe had not thrown the interception in the end zone against the Giants, Parcells may have continued to wait to make the move. Moreover, Parcells seemed to spend more time trying to temper Romo’s ego than he did in building him into a solid starter. When Romo struggled, Parcells’ response was something like, “Now you’re seeing the errors I saw.” That wasn’t comforting.

One of our visitors left a comment that is worth noting here:

I can’t believe you label the Parcells ere as a failure. As has been pointed out ad infinitum by countless media figures, bloggers, players, GMs, etc. Parcells has left this team infinitely more talented than when he came. If (and I know it is a big if) Jerry can keep from fecking up the coaching hire(s) then some SOB will be in prime position to make a great run for a few years. Whoever starts here will not be starting over.

I acknowledge that we may look back on Parcells more favorably if someone else can accomplish more with this talent than Parcells did. But that is my point: someone else will have to find a way to win with this group, and that is what I categorize his era as a failure.

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This issue is apparently going to be played out by the “professionals” as well:

Apparently, Bill Parcells cannot coach.

He is a miserable failure. Washed up. Thief of Jerry Jones’ millions.

That’s what you would believe if you’ve been reading the majority of the sludge coming from the Dallas-Fort Worth media. Or if you’ve been listening to Cowboys fans nationwide. Or if you have been tuning into the babbling buffoons on talk radio.

“Thankfully, the Bill Parcells Era ended Monday,” writes one scribe in the Metroplex. “It must be classified as a failure.”

“Glad he’s gone,” says first-time-listener Joe Bob in Plano.

“He sucked,” says the guy down the bar. “Gimme another beer.”

Truth is, Parcells did a good job in Dallas, and if Cowboys nation cannot see that then they are spoiled.

Parcells retired this week after four years with a 34-32 record and no playoff victories. Not exactly astonishing success and certainly more should have been expected in terms of playoff success.

But . . .

A failure? He sucked? You’ve got to be kidding.

How quickly Cowboys nation has forgotten. It doesn’t remember the Dave Campo years. Nor the Barry Switzer era. And we’re not giving him credit for that Super Bowl in 1996 because that title belongs to Jimmy Johnson.

When Parcells inherited the team in January 2003, Quincy Carter had to beat out Chad Hutchinson as starting quarterback. Troy Hambrick was replacing Emmitt Smith. Joey Galloway and Antonio Bryant were the receivers (OK, that’s not too bad). And that defense was a sieve.

The Cowboys had three consecutive 5-11 seasons prior to Parcells’ arrival. It was a team that had lost to the expansion Houston Texans to kick off Campo’s final season in 2002.

That’s about as far from the Super Bowl as the Arizona Cardinals.

From that wreck, Parcells was charged by Cowboys nation with building a Super Bowl winner in less than five years, a la Jimmy Johnson. All without the benefit of a team stocking the Cowboys’ cupboard with high draft picks for many years by foolishly trading for a fading star such as Smith, a la the Herschel Walker trade that built Jimmy’s winners.

Therein lies the reason for the Cowboys nation being so spoiled. Johnson did it so fast and had such good fortune that all coaches after him are compared to him.

They can’t win.

A good five-year plan for Parcells would have been reaching the playoffs in his fourth season with a playoff victory a legitimate goal. That is Parcells’ only failing – he did not win that playoff game.

But saying his tenure in Dallas is a failure is stupid. Wondering whether he tarnished his legacy because of his perceived failure in Dallas is shortsighted.

Don’t mistake this as defense of Parcells. It was time for him to step aside in Dallas and let new blood come on board. But in analyzing his stay there, the truth is that thanks to Parcells, the Cowboys are closer to the Super Bowl now than when he took over in January 2003.

The talent is better thanks to drafts and free-agent signings he oversaw and orchestrated. Just compare key positions.

* Quarterback: Tony Romo vs. Quincy Carter.

* Running back: Julius Jones-Marion Barber vs. Troy Hambrick

* Wide receivers: Terrell Owens-Terry Glenn vs. Joey Galloway-Antonio Bryant.

* Tight end: Jason Witten vs. Tony McGee.

* Defense: A unit with five first-round draft picks and two Pro Bowlers, including star-in-the-making DeMarcus Ware vs. a sieve.

If you believe all the hype surrounding Romo, the Cowboys have a franchise quarterback. The potential for a dynamic offense and defense is there. They are coming off back-to-back winning seasons. They are fairly young. All of which creates a window for playoff success.

The only way you can perceive that as failure is if you’re spoiled. Or if you have some axe to grind with Parcells.

The Cowboys right now resemble a team that is two or three parts (an offensive lineman, a linebacker and a safety) away from a Lombardi Trophy. That’s one good free-agent class and draft.

If the Cowboys win the Super Bowl next year, it won’t be because of Parcells, obviously. But the Hall of Fame coach will certainly have played a significant role to that end.

That’s a failure only to a fool.

Professional journalist calling people stupid, foolish, and spoiled for making what is a reasonable argument? Well, Rick Taylor, I think you’re wrong because you writing sucks. So there!

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And the other side of the coin, from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

There is a bar for Cowboys coaches. Bill Parcells failed to meet it. Period.

Men who coach America’s Team are expected to win Super Bowls.

The first three coaches in franchise history did it: Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer. Snicker if you want to about Switzer, but the man was the head coach and he’s got the ring to prove it.

No team in the NFL has had more Super Bowl-winning coaches.

Bill Parcells will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day, but by Cowboys standards, his four-year tenure and 34-32 record was not a success.

Results are the name of the game for those who coach America’s Team. Sorry, Bill, you’re right there with Chan Gailey and Dave Campo.

Unlike Gailey and Campo, The Tuna was able to have control over his assistant coaches and had a heavy hand in drafting players. His choices for offensive linemen never worked out: Stephen Peterman, Jacob Rogers, Al Johnson, Kyle Kosier and Marco Rivera were his examples of shopping for the groceries.

His old Tuna helpers never became difference-makers on the field. Drew Bledsoe, Vinny Testaverde, Jason Ferguson, Aaron Glenn, Jason Fabini, Marcus Robinson and Ryan Young never made the type of impact for the Cowboys as they did for Bill’s former teams in New York and New England.

ESPN and other Northeast media outlets continue to hail Parcells’ coaching career and his two Super Bowl victories with the Giants teams the late George Young drafted for him.

Parcells did less and less at each of his coaching stops when it comes to winning a championship. His Giants won Super Bowls, his Patriots lost Super Bowl XXXI, the 1998 Jets lost in the AFC title game, and his Cowboys never won the NFC East.

Save that whole line of “he left the Cowboys in better shape.” Parcells was paid a handsome sum of nearly $20 million because of his history to build up teams and get them to the promised land.

Jerry Jones would have come out better and saved almost $17 million if he had hired Lovie Smith. In just three years and $3 million, Smith has the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl.

The next coach of the Dallas Cowboys should be held to the bar Landry, Johnson and Switzer set: Win a Super Bowl. Anything less than a championship is a failure. That’s why the New York Yankees are a legendary franchise. Any season that doesn’t end with a ring is not acceptable.

The Cowboys need to get back to that type of mentality.

Can the Bears Learn from the Cowboys?


Dallas CowboysThis is all nothing but coincidence, but I can’t help but to think of the ironies of the playoff matchups this season when it comes to the Cowboys:

Dallas lost to Philadelphia by 14 and by 16.
Dallas lost to the Giants by 14, then beat the Giants by 3.
Dallas lost to New Orleans by 25.
Dallas lost to Seattle by 1.

Come playoff time:

Philadelphia beat the Giants by 3.
New Orleans beat Philadelphia by 3.

So Dallas was properly ranked as the fifth seed among these teams, and you would think that the order of difficulty would have ranked the Saints much higher than the Seahawks. However, the Bears only beat the Seahawks by 3, then beat the Saints by the same margin that New Orleans beat Dallas: 25.

What is my point? Not sure, except that Dallas beat the Colts by 7. Thus, the Cowboys went 1-5 against NFC playoff teams yet went 1-0 against the lone AFC playoff team that they beat, which happens to be the team that won the AFC. I think this is to say that perhaps the AFC is not as dominant as some think, and perhaps the Bears have a shot after all.

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While the house cleaning continues, here is an interesting blurb about why Dallas has financial incentive to cut Terrell Owens:

s3664.jpgJerry Jones has said he would like to bring back wide receiver Terrell Owens in 2007. But when T.O.’s contract is broken down, it’s clear that the Cowboys have little financial obligation to do so. If the Cowboys were to cut T.O. at any point before June, they would save about $6.4 million in salary-cap space and $8 million in cash. T.O. has a $3 million roster bonus due in June and a $5 million base salary in 2007. His prior signing bonus prorates to about $1.6 million, so that is a salary-cap number of $9.6 million for 2007. If you add both signing prorates together and subtract from the $9.6 million, you come out with $6.4 million worth of cap savings.

Hey, Terrell! Lane Kiffin on line 1!

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Bill ParcellsNFL Network showed Super Bowl XXV last night, and we got yet another glimpse at how different Bill Parcells acted then than he did in Dallas. So as for my opinion, I still think that leaving was a good idea.

Anyway, here is a clip from his interview on one of the New York radio stations:

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