I'd Hit It
UT - Clever Parcells knows summer school's a must
By Jerry Magee
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
OXNARD – Jimmy Sexton also represents Bill Parcells. I don't think there is any need to identify the party of the first part. A certain rookie quarterback.
"I have not spoken to my agent about that subject, nor would I ever inquire about business that is not my own," Parcells said. "I might stick the needle into my agent about it, but that's about it. Be lighthearted about it."
Yeah, lighthearted. No needle in sports is more piercing than that of Parcells, who can cut a man to the quick with a word. Shoot, with a glance. Sarcasm is his stiletto. He uses it wonderfully well.
Be around Parcells a day or two, however, and one becomes aware of what a deep thinker the coach of the Dallas Cowboys can be concerning football matters. He put in perspective just how limiting missing part of the preseason procedure can be for a quarterback.
On this occasion, the Cowboys had just completed their 21st practice at this summer base they are occupying for the first time. By the time they faced off against the Texans in Houston in their opening preseason game, they would have exercised 24 times.
"We're probably going to have 118-120 practices all year," Parcells said. "What's that, 20 percent? In some cases, that's 10-20 repetitions a day. That's probably 400 repetitions he didn't get."
The rule of thumb, or perhaps I should say the rule of football, is that for a quarterback to miss a day of practice is equivalent to a player at another position missing a week. Whatever, somebody wanted to know how Parcells would be reacting if the quarterback pursuing designs of his own had been drafted by the Cowboys.
"My expectation would not be any different," Parcells contended. "My agent represented two of our guys (tight end Jason Witten and linebacker Bradie James) last year. He (Sexton) is no fun, either. I think they call it fiduciary responsibility. Is that the right word?"
Parcells' vocabulary cannot be questioned and neither can his attention to detail. Every day in practice he takes a moment to address a particular game situation, however seemingly minuscule. On this day, he had his punt team rehearse going downfield and not touch the football.
A punt spiraled to the field's opposite end. It landed, a covey of Cowboys surrounded it and, as instructed, kept their hands off it. Lesson learned. Parcells later would explain that what he had in mind was a situation when, having to punt, he was desirous of running the clock. His people not touching the punt would take several additional and possibly precious seconds from the team that would be beginning its offense.
"But we still have to cover the punt," Parcells said. "They could run it back."
Although Parcells isn't saying it, this Dallas team would seem a cut above the club that in its first season under Parcells went 10-6, which was a triumph in itself. The team's three previous editions all went 6-10.
Some comparisons. On the outside, Parcells a year ago had three average-sized guys, Terry Glenn, Antonio Bryant and Joey Galloway. He now has Keyshawn Johnson, who is 6-foot-4, to work over the middle. Glenn no longer is going to be aligned in the slot, Parcells' thinking being that he is too slight to hold up against the jostling that occurs there.
Dallas' ranking tailback through the 2003 season was the unspectacular Troy Hambrick. One now would find him in Oakland. Where he aligned, Parcells presents Eddie George and rookie Julian Jones. Score that as a major plus for the 'Boys.
This team does not include a quarterback who worked in the Dallas system in any degree a year ago, Chad Hutchinson and Quincy Carter having been excised. The situation is not causing Parcells, who will be 63 on Aug. 23, to become more gray. For one thing, his hair is blond because of the wonders of chemistry. For another, he has Vinny Testaverde, 40.
The coach's position is that Testaverde will be less error-prone than Carter, who served 21 interceptions and did not recognize what was happening downfield as well as Parcells would have preferred.
Testaverde, it should be noted, is schooled in Parcells' football, having served him as a member of the New York Jets in 1998. Testaverde's passing rating that year: 101.6.
Jerry Jones was talking about the Cowboys. "The period when we were not winning slipped up on me," the team's owner acknowledged. "I didn't initially recognize it as a time when we would do that; every year, you think you are going to win. I look back on it now and I say, 'Boy, we went through a slump.' Hopefully, we're doing some things here that will make us competitive."
Count on it.