Ask Coach Parcells firstname.lastname@example.org By DCW Staff Q: What is the hardest thing for a young cornerback to do making the switch from college to the pros? A: I think the most difficult thing is learning how to properly evaluate your opponent. It is hard the first time around to be cognizant of the skill of your opponent. A corner has to figure out what a receiver seems to do well and how as a defender he can counter that strength. He needs to know how to break down that aspect of a receiver's game. Because of that, sometimes you really need to direct a young cornerback on how to play a certain style of receiver. I think a lot of young players look at receivers as all one big group. They don't look at them like people that have different skills and strengths. They may know that a guy is fast or another guy is quick or maybe something like this guy is little or this guy is big, but they don't really evaluate them in enough depth to say, "OK, this guy is quick but he doesn't do this as well. Now how can I try to force him to do that." That is the type of in-depth breakdown you start to learn as you go through the process of learning how to play the game at this level. Q: Do you see yourself and your personality in Maurice Carthon? A: I hope not. For his sake, I hope he doesn't have my personality. No, Maurice is his own guy. Just because he's the one guy that's been with me the longest, people have a tendency to say this is "Little" Bill. It's really not like that at all. He is his own guy, and I admire him very much. I like him very much personally, and I think he is a real good dynamic young coach. I think Maurice has a very good future in this league. Maurice worked hard as a player, and he is putting in the work now to be a good coach. He started with me as an offensive assistant and kept after it each year, learning and getting better. He loves the game and he loves coaching it. Q: What makes for consistent play at quarterback? A: First of all they have to be guys that can protect the football. Then they have to be guys that can manage the game. In order to do that, they have to be able to make key third-down completions, which in turn moves the chains and keeps sustained drives going. Not everything about being a consistent quarterback falls on that individual though. A lot depends on the supporting cast they have around them. If he has receivers that can get enough separation, does he have linemen good enough to give him the protection he needs to get the pass off and things like that. I just think quarterbacks - the successful ones - seem to be able, regardless of the situation, to get their teams down the field and score points. Then there are others who are picturesque passers, but don't put the points on the board. I've seen some of those as well. Q: While your defense played well in 2003, are you worried about the lack of big plays they were able to create? A: I don't think that is the case at all because we made a lot of plays on defense. A lot. I would say our group probably made more than most teams. We won a lot of games because of our defense. We play a lot of man-to-man defense in our secondary, and that style of play is never very conducive to generating interceptions. But at the same time, I think our guys did a nice job of playing within the system and making sure we didn't give up the big play that could get us beat. There are certainly things that we can continue to improve on and those are what we have been working on these last five months. We have to continue to work this year to eliminate the dumb penalties that hurt us at times last season. They were very, very instrumental in some of our losing efforts. We have to eliminate some of those. We also have to eliminate some key turnovers on offense. We asked a lot of our defense at times last year to come up with a stop after a turnover and that can get tough. We were successful last season when we held onto the football. When we've not, we haven't.