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Parcells makes it interesting for Miami

December 21, 2007|Sam Farmer | ON THE NFL

Turns out the Miami Dolphins have a use for all that iced-down champagne after all.

Bill Parcells is coming to town.

Yes, he has the stick-to-itiveness of one of those dried-out Christmas envelopes I've been licking, but he's one of the greatest football minds in the NFL.

And the Dolphins had to do something.

Amazingly, in the same season the New England Patriots seemed destined to join them on the podium of perfection, the Dolphins -- keeping that bubbly on ice in case the Patriots were to lose -- were slogging through their own imperfect storm.

Until beating Baltimore in overtime Sunday, they were on their way to becoming the second winless team in league history.

So they needed a Mr. Fix-It, and Parcells fills that bill. He signed Thursday to become the Dolphins' vice president of football operations.

The fact it's a four-year deal is significant. That's how long he stayed with the Dallas Cowboys, and how long he stuck around the Patriots a decade earlier. He spent three seasons in between with the New York Jets.

It isn't surprising Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga went this direction. He has made high-profile hires before, and two recent ones bombed. Nick Saban bailed out of his coaching contract after two seasons, going 9-7 and 6-10 before bolting to Alabama.

In 2004, the Dolphins hired Dan Marino to do the job that Parcells now has, and the Hall of Fame quarterback lasted all of three weeks. It was a little more of a round-the-clock commitment than he wanted.

Getting the best from Parcells won't be a problem. The job will consume him, and he'll consume -- and discard -- anyone he feels is weak or somehow unprepared. He'll keep the good ones, though.

"He's going to come after you, and if you don't challenge him and fight back, he's not going to have any respect for you," said an NFL personnel executive who knows him well. "If you're like that, you're not going to last long."

Parcells, 66, probably won't last too long either, but that will be his choosing. He will make the Dolphins interesting, relevant and decisive.

You can bet, for one, that the general manager is gone. Randy Mueller was on the verge of being fired by Saban -- the guy who brought him in after canning Rick Spielman -- but the coach took the Alabama job before he could show Mueller the door.

Parcells had to be especially aware of that situation; he and Saban are both represented by agent Jimmy Sexton.

The Dolphins will almost surely have the No. 1 pick in next spring's draft, and they'll have the right man running the show. As a coach, Parcells was as savvy about personnel decisions as anyone in football. He helped build the Cowboys into what they are today.

Among his moves in Dallas, he signed Tony Romo as an undrafted free agent, took tight end Jason Witten in the third round, running back Marion Barber and inside linebacker Bradie James in the fourth, and receiver Patrick Crayton, cornerback Jacques Reeves and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff in the seventh.

With Parcells at the helm, the Dolphins aren't going to be pulling off any head-scratchers on draft day, the way they did this year when they passed on quarterback Brady Quinn to use the No. 9 pick on receiver Ted Ginn Jr.

And what of Cam Cameron? Is the first-year coach ready to have Parcells looking over his shoulder? The two have a connection. Cameron played basketball for Bobby Knight at Indiana, and Parcells and Knight are friends who lived together as young coaches at West Point.

Regardless, there are sure to be some shake-ups in Miami. Parcells isn't one to bite his tongue. He told reporters he won't have a problem resisting the urge to put on the headset and take over for Cameron.

"It's a young man's game in terms of coaching, and I know it's time for someone else to be doing those things," Parcells said. "And if I can assist that person in any manner with my experience or the technical aspect -- if he would seek that out -- then I'm happy to contribute any way I can.

"But it's going to be a team effort here. It's not going to be one guy doing everything, I promise you that."

Not one guy. But the right guy.

While it lasts.

--

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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