"There are some questions, don't worry," Parcells said recently (Please note, Parcells does not talk between the last day of the season and the first day of the draft, so this was collected the last week of the season.) "I know pretty much what they are."
The Cowboys are sounding very much like a team ready to stand pat for next season. Vinny Testaverde's agent, Mike Azzarelli, said his client wants to play another season, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been saying for weeks that he wants Testaverde back. What the Cowboys have to decide is whether Testaverde returns as a starter or a backup.
"I do not see good options," Jones said, regarding the possibly of bringing in a quarterback. "We put in place Henson, and we'll get to see what he is."
The Cowboys have not ruled out Drew Henson being the starter, even if he goes to NFL Europe with Tony Romo for the summer. The Cowboys feel Henson needs the reps and can handle playing both seasons. If they are wrong, Testaverde is good insurance.
Will the Cowboys switch to a 3-4 defensive alignment? Bill Parcells is not talking, at least not lately.
He said plenty, though, in the weeks leading up to the end of the season, and all of it hinted at a switch to the 3-4 defense he favored at his previous coaching stops. The scheme is working well for New England and Pittsburgh, largely considered the best teams in the NFL.
"I think the style of defense we play is fine, if we can get enough guys to do it," Parcells said. "Unfortunately, there's not just a ton of those (defensive ends) available to you both in the draft and in free agency. And those that are available are usually quite expensive, if they're any good."
It sounds as if Parcells is leaning toward change. Which would go along with his postseason promise to players that "changes were coming." It also would seem to suit some of the Cowboys' personnel, such as speed-rushing linebackers Kalen Thornton and Scott Shanle. The question, of course, is: Will the Cowboys be able to acquire all the pieces necessary to make the change?
"I think, in any case, what we decide to do will be determined on what we're able to try to acquire, or what looks like we can acquire," Parcells said.
How many changes will be made?
Parcells promised changes following the team's 6-10 campaign.
Scouting director Larry Lacewell "retired," and offensive line coach George Warhop was fired. The contracts of five other assistant coaches expire at the end of the month, but no other changes are expected. (The coaches are: Bruce DeHaven (special teams), Kacy Rogers (defensive tackles), David Lee (offensive assistant), Steve Hoffman (kickers) and Jim Jeffcoat (defensive ends).
Lacewell's departure was not a surprise. Lacewell, a longtime friend of owner/general manager Jerry Jones, coordinated the past 11 drafts but had seen his role change dramatically since Bill Parcells' arrival two years ago.
"Jerry (Jones), Stephen (Jones) and I have discussed this transition for the past 18 months, and I just felt this was the appropriate time," Lacewell, 68, said. "I'm going to continue to help Jerry and Bill (Parcells) in whatever ways I can in the future. It's been a great run. I am extremely happy."
Jeff Ireland, a national scout for the Cowboys since 2001, is expected to become the team's director of college and pro scouting.
Warhop, considered one of the league's rising offensive line coaches after a successful stint in Arizona, was hired by Parcells two years ago. But left tackle Flozell Adams regressed in 2004, second-round pick Jacob Rogers never got on the field and the right side of the line was in constant flux.
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