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AP: Parcells again tries to revitalize a franchise


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Parcells again tries to revitalize a franchise



By Aaron Rennie SportsTicker Staff Writer

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (Ticker) - If the Bill Parcells touch holds true to form, then the Dallas Cowboys will return to the playoffs in 2004.

Parcells was named coach of the New York Giants in 1983 and led the team to the postseason a year later. By the 1986 season, Parcells guided the Giants to their first Super Bowl and repeated the feat four years later.

Parcells left the Giants following the 1990 campaign, but he resurfaced in New England and took the Patriots to the playoffs in his second season and to the Super Bowl in his fourth.

After a bitter departure to the New York Jets following the 1996 season, Parcells again worked his magic, turning a 1-15 team into a 9-7 squad in one season. In 1998, again in his second year as coach, the Jets made the playoffs, losing to the Denver Broncos in the AFC championship game.

Parcells lasted only one more year with the Jets, then left to pursue broadcasting work. But he got the itch to coach again, and after backing away from the Tampa Buccaneers job in 2002, he shocked many NFL experts and fans by taking the Cowboys' post in early January.

"I don't think there will ever be a time, even after I've left the game for good, when I won't care," Parcells said early in training camp. "I don't think it will ever get to the point where I just think, 'OK, it's football season now, and I don't have any interest in that.' ... Once you leave football, it's like you were never there. Now that I'm back, it's like I was never gone."

Perhaps more than any other coach in the NFL, Parcells is a micromanager, one who tries to control everything about his squad, but the Cowboys are owned by the extremely hands-on Jerry Jones, who after the Jimmy Johnson years told his coaches whom to select in the draft.

But desperate for a coach to turn things around after three consecutive 5-11 seasons for "America's Team," Jones decided to sign the hard-driving Parcells for $17.1 million over four years.

Jones, who always held the 62-year-old Parcells in high regard, seems even more impressed with the coach after seeing his attention to detail in training camp.

"I had no idea I was hiring someone so intimately involved in every single thing that is taught to the players and the coaches," Jones told Sports Illustrated. "That's been a pleasant surprise."

But despite Jones' and the Cowboy faithful's high hopes, Parcells likely will not be able to improve the team that much this season. The Cowboys, after all, are coming off three straight 5-11 seasons, and saw their longtime centerpiece, all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith, depart to the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent.

Also, as has been the case since Troy Aikman retired three years ago, Dallas once again does not have a quarterback who consistently can carry the team when the running game fails. But Parcells seems impressed with Quincy Carter, whom he recently named the starter over Chad Hutchinson after playing well in the final two preseaon games.

"I just thought, at the end of the day, Carter gives us the better chance to win right now,' said Parcells of the third-year signal-caller, who had a quarterback rating of 72.3 while tossing seven touchdowns and eight interceptions in five games last season.

But likely Hall of Fame left guard Larry Allen has been slow to recover from surgery and second-round pick Al Johnson, who was slated to start at center, went down to a season-ending knee injury, making it extremely difficult for the Cowboys' offensive line to open up holes for Smith's replacement, Troy Hambrick.

Dallas, which had the league's 30th-rated offense last season, signed free agent fullback Richie Anderson, who was adept at catching passes out of the backfield for the Jets in 2002, and traded for receiver Terry Glenn, who played for Parcells in New England.

Further, the Cowboys' defense, ranked 18th in 2002, has a pair of talented young defensive backs in second-year safety Roy Williams and rookie cornerback Terence Newman, their first-round pick in 2003.

Still, the Cowboys largely are talent-thin, and they play in the highly competitive NFC East Division, which means they will face two 2002 playoff teams, the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, and the improved Washington Redskins six times this season.

But even with so many question marks, especially at quarterback and running back, Parcells, like his owner, expects the Cowboys to win, and win now.

"(Another 5-11 season is) not acceptable to Jerry. It certainly won't be acceptable to me," Parcells said at the press conference announcing his hiring on January 2. "I'll do whatever I can to improve it."

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When I see all this damn hype about the "great" Tuna and his coaching ability, I still think about that threat posted a few days ago about how with New England Patriots HC Bill Belichick running his defense for him, Parcells coaching record is 105-54, yet without him running it, his record is 33-46-1.

Guess you need "Chef Belichick" to make that Tuna taste better, or it might go bad

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