Parcells Proving Himself ... Again

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells makes veterans show him at the beginning of the season that they still have what it takes before he gives them the benefit of the doubt.

This year -- after last season's embarrassing 6-10 campaign -- Parcells believes he must prove himself all over again too.

"You're always judged in this business by what you did in the most recent season," Parcells said. "So I certainly feel challenged myself, and I certainly feel that I do have something to prove. ... That can be a good thing. I would hope it can."

A motivated Parcells is enough in itself to foster excitement in Cowboys camp heading into the 2005 season.

The Hall of Fame-in-waiting coach who has two Super Bowl titles and taken four different teams to the playoffs, including the Cowboys in 2003, has never had consecutive losing seasons.

Add in what owner Jerry Jones calls one of the best offseasons in team history and there's little wonder why optimism abounds with the Cowboys.

Jones spent more than $32 million in signing bonuses alone, to bring in four starters in free agency, including quarterback Drew Bledsoe, guard Marco Rivera, nose guard Jason Ferguson and cornerback Anthony Henry. That complemented a draft class filled with potential impact players, led by first-rounders Demarcus Ware and Marcus Spears.

Jones, who hired Parcells in January 2003 to restore the luster on his fading franchise, says this is an "exciting time for our organization."

"One of the reasons we are excited is what we were able to do in free agency and I am excited a bout our draft as any we have had in along time," Jones said.

"But the biggest reason as any is because Bill is here. I have always believed that the biggest measure of working with anyone is how they work in adversity. I know the effort he put in the off-season. So I can tell you this is a time when we have a chance to have some good things happen."

The moves in free agency and the draft have made this Cowboys team more talented than any since Parcells has been in Dallas.

It is vastly improved from last year's team, which often left Parcells dumbfounded and demoralized. By the end of the season, the coach was worn out because the Cowboys couldn't score enough points or hold opponents off enough.

The poor play on defense has the Cowboys changing from the 4-3 front to the 3-4 front, which is why signing the wide-body Rivera was key -- as was the drafting of first rounders Ware and Spears to have immediate impact players at linebacker and defensive end respectively.

"You can't do anything in the off-season to alter that behavior but this is really not complicated," Parcells said. "We think we improved the quality of play particularly in the free agency. You have the opportunity to look at some of these guys historically over their careers and what they have done.

"And with the rookies I think if you would ask people in the league if they would like to have this draft that we have, they would like to have it and take their chances."

Parcells, however, didn't stop with his team. He included himself in his offseason scrutiny. And a coach who demands that his players come to camp in good condition sets an example by improving his own physical condition. He has slimmed down by doing flexibility exercises and running more than he has in years.

Parcells says he has the energy to follow through with the promise he made to the team at the end of last season.

"I wanted to able to stay on their asses every day," Parcells said. "That is the best way I can put it."

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