|NFL 08: Parcells' imprint is all over Dolphins|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 21 August 2008 11:53|
The way the players reacted to coaches, the way they conducted themselves - the former quarterback could make out the imprint of his old coach, Bill Parcells.
Of course, Parcells isn't the coach of the Dolphins. His official title is executive vice president of football operations.
Still, if you didn't know any better, you might think he was still coaching by the way Miami's players talk sometimes.
``I was real excited to be a part of an organization that he's in, because he's turned programs around, he's won championships, he's been around the best,'' said offensive tackle Jake Long, the first pick in this year's draft, ``and I'm just very excited to learn from him and play for him.''
A year after resigning as the Dallas Cowboys' coach, Parcells came out of retirement yet again to try and restore a once-proud franchise that lurched to 1-15 last season
Parcells' history pops up all around the Dolphins' overhauled roster and front office. New general manager Jeff Ireland, new coach Tony Sparano and four new assistants worked under Parcells with the Cowboys.
Five offseason acquisitions played for him there. Quarterback Chad Pennington, drafted by Parcells in 2000 when he was the Jets' general manager, signed with the Dolphins on Aug. 8.
On the first day of training camp, Sparano used the word ``we'' repeatedly in speaking to reporters.
``When I say 'we,' I talk about myself, Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland, and what we are trying to get accomplished right now,'' he said. ``At the end of this process, one of the things I told my players last night is, 'We picked you; we picked you to be here.' I think that's important for them to know that.
``Every one of those guys - there is 80 of them in that room right now - they're all mine. We picked them.''
The consistent message from Parcells on down is unmistakable to players, a welcome change to years of instability. The Dolphins have had five head coaches since 2004. After all the changes this offseason, said linebacker Akin Ayodele, they almost feel like an expansion franchise.
``You definitely can tell all these coaches are close,'' Long said. ``They all have the same hard work mentality and doing the little things and winning. You can tell they're all like that and all have camaraderie together.''
Parcells attended nearly every practice during training camp and it wasn't unusual to see him offering instruction to players.
``Somebody will mess up or miss a block or drop a ball, and you'll just see him scoot over to him and whisper something in their ear,'' said linebacker Channing Crowder. ``That coaching mentality, that coaching is still in his heart. He always wants to be part of the team.
``I think it's good to have a guy with that record and that kind of nobility that he has about coaching turn us around and keep us rolling.''
Parcells isn't talking to the media these days, but he insisted last month that ``it's not my program.''
``It's Jeff Ireland's and Tony Sparano's program,'' he said. ``They're the ones that are charged with the day-to-day dealings with the Miami Dolphins. I'm just trying to get the structure in place. That's what I'm charged with doing. That's my job. And it's not the same kind of job I've had before. And people can't separate that.''
That perception - correct or not - that it indeed is Parcells' program could be awkward for a first-time head coach like Sparano. He oversaw the tight ends and then offensive line with the Cowboys and also served as running game coordinator for two years. He was the assistant head coach the last two seasons, in 2006 under Parcells and in 2007 under his successor, Wade Phillips.
Ayodele, one of the Cowboys acquired by the Dolphins during the offseason, has known Sparano since they were both with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2002. Sparano doesn't seem like a rookie head coach, Ayodele said. It's clear to him that Parcells and Ireland have been grooming Sparano for this role for several years.
Ayodele sees some Parcells in Sparano. He also sees some of Phillips and of Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars' coach when Sparano was an assistant there.
``He demands the respect just the way he approaches each and every day,'' Ayodele said. ``He definitely can read the team. You would never think the fact that when we was in Dallas he wasn't as vocal as he is now, just because of the position he's in.
``But within his position that he coached, the o-linemen, he definitely had their respect, and you could tell that he definitely knew the game as far as offense, defense, a very smart guy. He's definitely in the right position.''