Getting the most out of a team has never been an issue for Bill Parcells. While he definitely is not the most-liked coach in the game, the Dallas Cowboys organization could not be happier with the turnaround of the team under the tutelage of the fiery and rather sarcastic Parcells.
Surprisingly, the Cowboys have continued to roll along in the 2003 season. Heading into training camp, Parcells did not know who his quarterback would be. Uncertainty surrounded the running back position, and Parcells himself was questioning the size of the team linebackers.
Taking quarterback Quincy Carter under his wing, Parcells has instilled a quiet confidence in Carter, a confidence and relationship which baffled many league personnel evaluators around the league. Again, Parcells has shown his keen insight of knowing how to get inside the heads of his players and finding what makes them tick.
While standing atop of the NFC East division with an 8-3 record and a showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles on the horizon, Dallas has proven they are not the pretender many early season prognosticators envisioned.
This Cowboys offense has been better than expected this season, but the consensus within the Dallas organization is the team has considerable room for improvement before Parcells is comfortable and confident. When evaluating this Dallas team, strikingly obvious is the lack of presence along the offensive line and running game. In discussing the team recently with a member of the organization, we come away with an impression of satisfaction with the season thus far, but this Dallas organization is far from ready to concede the season has been a success.
The bar has been raised in Dallas. Coming off three 5-11 seasons, this team easily has exceeded the number of victories of those Dallas teams and they have been much more competitive. In most cases, this success alone would be enough to rate the season a success, except we are talking about Bill Parcells here and he expects to win every week, regardless of the past record of the team.
Parcells has kept a low-key, reserved manner about this team when discussing their post-season prospects. Behind closed doors and in practice sessions, the play and consistency of the offensive line is what gets under Parcells skin. Often berating his team for their inconsistency, Parcells has let this improving team know they must improve at the point of attack. Known for his physical style teams, Parcells will continue to build an offensive line that has been average at best in the 2003 season.
Granted, this club has exceeded expectations, even the high, competitive standards set by Parcells. Indications coming out of the organization are the team will make some calculated moves in the off-season to improve the perceived trouble areas within the roster. As noted, the offensive line is a high-priority for the coaching staff, as is the running back position.
When handing the reigns over to Troy Hambrick heading into training camp, Parcells was hopefully optimistic he could handle the duties of a starting running back in the league. Showing promise in limited opportunities over the past couple season, Hambrick has not grasped the role with the Cowboys in 2003. Late in training camp and up to the training deadline, Parcells attempted to bring in a player to fill the void in the running game. Unable to land running back Kevan Barlow from San Francisco or Rudi Johnson from Cincinnati, the Cowboys felt Hambrick was the best option for the remainder of the season.
The off-season will be another story in Dallas, as Parcells is expected to make a run at both Barlow and Johnson in free agency. Both players will be restricted free agents and Parcells' desire to improve the Dallas rushing game will come into play quickly.
Presently, the Cowboys and namely Parcells are surprised and excited about the progress of Carter. The feeling within "Big D" is the team has capable quarterbacks behind carter, with Chad Hutchinson and Tony Romo on the roster. The growth of Carter likely helps the team, as the need for a high-priced free agent at the quarterback position now is not a necessity.
Getting down the bottom of the Parcells-led Cowboys, from what we've been told, the offensive line and running back spots will be addressed by the team. It's all about physical, consistent football.
And, Parcells wouldn't have it any other way.