**UPDATE**: Just to close the book on any doubt that this deal will get done, ESPN is reporting that the deal is official:
Parcells faxed the contract to the team. The Dolphins are expected to make a formal announcement Thursday afternoon.
And here's the link to the official article on the team's website.
Now back to our regularly scheduled post. [end update]
First of all, let me say that the title of this post will be the very last time I ever refer to Bill Parcells as the "Big Tuna." It's a weird, creepy nickname and I will not recognize it beyond this very post.
So barring an unexpected setback, Bill Parcells is set to become the VP of Football Operations for the Miami Dolphins. In a nutshell, this basically means that Parcells will have the final say over every football decision this organization makes. From the GM to the coaches to the players, the buck stops with Parcells.
You will remember that I was anti-Parcells, calling him overrated. But that was as a head coach. And I still feel that way. Just look at how well the Cowboys have played without Parcells. Is Wade Phillips that great of a coach? No. Parcells just didn't "get" today's athlete. But the man knows talent and how to build a winning team. So as a front office guy who will run the team, I'll 100% in favor of this move.
So how will this affect the franchise? Well, for starters, just having his name gives the Dolphins instant credibility. Like somebody here already pointed out in the comments section, free agents will now be less likely to shy away from coming to Miami because of their poor performance this season. That in itself is a great impact Parcells will have. But there's more. You have to think about the impact he'll have in being able to turn this franchise around. You have to consider the impact he'll have on Miami's drafting. And you have to think about the impact he'll have on the coaching staff (and GM, for that matter). So let's break it down a little bit.
TURNING THE SHIP AROUND
That's the one thing Bill Parcells is known for. Sure, he's only won 2 Super Bowls. And in the grand scheme of things, that is very many compared to other legends. But he's had a knack for improving whatever franchise he's ever been involed with. Let's consider his 4 stops:
New York Giants
Parcells took over in 1983 in New York. In the Giants' previous 5 seasons, the team had a record of 29-44. In the next 8 seasons ('83-'90), the Giants went 77-49-1. They made the playoffs 5 times and won two Super Bowls. That's certainly an impressive turnaround.
New England Patriots
Parcells headed to Foxboro in 1993. In their previous 5 seasons, the Pats were a laughing stock, with a record of 23-57. In the 4 seasons Bill spent in New England ('93-'96), the Pats went 32-32. Sure, that's not great. But he did make the playoffs 2 times and even appeared in a Super Bowl.
New York Jets
His next stop was back in East Rutherford, this time with the Jets. He got there in 1997. In the Jets' previous 5 seasons, they compiled a record of 22-58, another clear joke of a franchise. In the next 3 seasons ('97-'99), the Parcells-led Jets went 29-19 with one playoff appearance. Not as great as some make it out to be, but a definite improvement.
His final stop before the Dolphins was Dallas, joining the Cowboys in 2003. The previous 5 seasons saw this proud franchise go 33-47. In the next 4 seasons ('03-'06), they would go 34-30 under Parcells, reaching the playoffs twice.
So what you see here isn't too flashy. But the Dolphins don't need to win a Super Bowl...yet. They first must get back to being a respectable NFL franchise, and Bill Parcells is the guy to orchestrate it.
PARCELLS, THE TALENT EVALUATOR
The best asset Bill brings to Miami is, undoubtedly, his ability to evaluate talent. That's exactly what this franchise needs. They need to recover from years of mismanagement and poor talent evaluating, which resulted in some truely pitiful drafts. So let's look at some of the work Parcells has done in the draft. And note, I'm not going to bring up his days with the NY Giants because the scouting process was quite different those days. So I won't be bringing up guys like Carl Banks, Mark Bavaro, or Pepper Johnson.
Here's a look at some of the guys he drafted in his 3 other stops in the NFL:
1st round - Drew Bledsoe ('93), Willie McGinist ('94), Ty Law ('95), James Farrior ('97), Terence Newman ('03), DeMarcus Ware ('05)
Other rounds - Troy Brown (8th, '93), Ted Johnson (2nd, '95), Curtis Martin (3rd, '95), Jason Ferguson (7th, '97), Jason Fabini (4th, '98), Jason Witten (3rd, '03), Bradie James (4th, '03), Julius Jones (2nd, '04), Patrick Crayton (7th, '04), and Marion Barber (4th, '05)
Not a bad list, eh? And let's not forget the fact that he brought in undrafted free agent Tony Romo for a workout. And we can all see how that move has worked out for Dallas. So, clearly, the man knows his stuff.
What could this mean for April's draft? Well, one thing you will see is Bill's penchant for drafting defense in round 1. In fact, this is part of the reason why Bill left New England. He wanted to take a defensive player in round 1 of the 1997 draft while owner Bob Kraft wanted Terry Glenn. The owner, as always, won that argument and off Bill went to New York. Of course, the one time he had a #1 overall pick, Parcells went QB and took Bledsoe. One thing to note, though, is that Bill is unlikely to take a running back in the first round, especially considering the success he's had at finding good later round backs. Julius Jones and Marion Barber are perfect examples. And I do believe I recall Parcells saying on ESPN that he is against draft a running back in the first round. Of course, the chance that Miami takes a QB with the #1 overall pick might have gone up if Parcells isn't a big fan of John Beck. We'll have to wait and see on that one.
THE IMPACT ON COACHING
This seems to be the big question. What is going to happen to the current coaching staff? And for that matter, the general manager as well. I don't think anyone knows, and anyone who claims to know is probably wrong. But here's some of what I do know about the big 3 (Cam, Randy, Dom) in relation to Bill Parcells. Randy Mueller has no connection to Bill in any way (that I can tell). So I'd bet that Randy would have to really impress Bill to stick around. And if Randy is cut loose, I have no idea on who Bill might look to bring in as a GM. The two names I have heard, though, as potential GMs are Jeff Ireland (Cowboys VP of scouting) and John Schneider (Packers personnel analyst). But does it really matter when you consider Bill will have final say on all personnel moves? I'd imagine this won't be as big of a deal as some are making it out to be.
As for the two "big" coaches: Cam and Dom. Cameron's future was always in question and now you'd have to assume it's in even more rockier footing than ever. However, Cam does have a connection (in a way) to Bill. Parcells is close friends with Bobby Knight and shares many beliefs with Knight. Cam was mentored by Knight at Indiana and is a believer in much of Knight's concepts and beliefs. Perhaps this will help Cam's future. Or maybe Knight will give Bill a call and tell him that he thinks Cam has the makings of a good coach. I don't know and, at this point, it's anyone's guess.
Dom Capers has a closer connection to Parcells than Cam does. Tom Coughlin is a "Parcells guy" and Capers spent 2 seasons working under Coughlin. Perhaps that has an impact on Dom's future with the Dolphins. But perhaps it doesn't.
What people do want to know is who might be the next head coach if Cam is given the pink slip. That's a good question and there's a number of guys you could consider. There are a number of current head coaches who are a descendant of the Parcells coaching tree. But some, like Sean Payton and Bill Belichick, aren't likely leaving their jobs anytime soon. However, there are a few that could be getting canned at season's end. Some of those are Tom Coughlin, Mike Nolan, and Marvin Lewis.
Then you got some top coordinators who stem from the Parcells tree and who might be ready to be a head coach in the NFL. The most intriguing of those would definitely be Jason Garrett. Garrett, despite hacing connections to the Dolphins, is likely the next head coach of the Cowboys once Wade Phillips is done. So would Garrett want to leave Dallas in order to get a definite head coaching job and to have Bill Parcells as his boss? Maybe. But I'm not sure what he's thinking, so I don't know if this is even a consideration. Other top coordinators from the Parcells tree include Josh McDaniels (OC, NE) and Mike Zimmer (DC, Atl).
Then there's the college coaches who are branches of the Parcells tree. To me, the most interesting candidate here would be Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. Ferentz is held in high regard as the "next great NFL coach from the college ranks." But I'm not so sure I'd want to go down this road again. Remember, Nick Saban was also a branch from the Parcells tree and a top college coach. And we all know how that played out. Other potential college coaches would be Fresno State's Pat Hill, Virginia's Al Groh, and Notre Dame's Charlie Weis. But to be honest, I wouldn't really be interested in any of those.
So that's enough rambling for me. This gives you, if nothing else, a good start when considering what the future might look like with Parcells running the show. And all we can hope for, really, is to become a relevant NFL team again. And Parcells is likely the guy who can get us there.
12/23/07: YOU GOTTA BELIEVE