Parcells Making Headway

Did you miss the first press conference featuring newly appointed head coach Bill Parcells? No problem, we've got all the major highlights in this extensive report.

Bill Parcells, the new commander of the Cowboys, delivered his state of the team address Tuesday (Jan. 28) inside the Cowboys locker room. In his 45-minute news conference, Parcells said he will:

* Try hard to re-sign free-agent tackle Flozell Adams.

* Make special teams a priority.

* Seek more options at quarterback and other positions.

* Know something about Emmitt Smith's future with the team soon.

* Hold every player accountable.

Parcells described how he tackled prioritizing priorities by dividing his offseason to-do list into "must do's," "need to do's" and "wish we could do's."

He gave a working blueprint of his "must do's." "I want some options at the quarterback position," Parcells said. "And, certainly, we have to consider the running back position at this point in time."

Parcells drew a picture of what he envisions his Cowboys looking like in 2003, both with what he said and what he didn't say in a sprawling 45-minute news conference Tuesday at Valley Ranch.

* On Emmitt Smith: What Parcells said was Smith's future as a Cowboys running back will be decided in an "imminent" meeting between Smith and owner Jerry Jones. What Parcells didn't say is if he wants Smith back.

"I didn't really have a suggestion," Parcells said when asked if he had said anything to Jones about Smith. "That's between [Smith and Jones] initially. I think that they're going to talk it out. I'm not speaking for Jerry, I don't know what he's going to say, I really don't. I know he's going to meet with Emmitt and discuss it, and when that happens, I'll probably have something to say about it."

Smith is, by far, the Cowboys' stickiest off-season decision because of what he has done and what he believes he still can do. Speaking at the Super Bowl, Smith was adamant he isn't a backup, certainly not Troy Hambrick's backup.

Whether he will be a Cowboy, which a source said will mean being a backup, is likely to be determined quickly. Jones and Smith are expected to meet pretty soon after Smith returns to Dallas on Thursday.

* On quarterback: What Parcells said is he wants to take a veteran quarterback to training camp. What he didn't say was he'd be looking for somebody willing to back up quarterback Chad Hutchinson.

While Parcells is not necessarily looking to replace Hutchinson, he is looking for options.

The second-year quarterback seemed energized, not dismayed, by the notion of having to battle for a job that only months ago had been handed to him. In San Diego for Super Bowl festivities, Hutchinson said he had taken only a week off before getting back to training.

"I know coach Parcells is going to bring somebody in. I'm not worried about competition," Hutchinson said. "I'm ready to compete."

* On what he expects from his players: What Parcells said is no player, no matter how good he has been or is expected to be, is guaranteed anything. What he didn't say were specific names.

Not that Ebenezer Ekuban and Larry Allen needed a reminder they failed to live up to expectations.

"I go by what I see, even if you are the most veteran of players," Parcells said. "I've already told a couple of them this, I will defer to veteran players as long as they are proven players. But sometime during training camp you have to prove to me you can still do it. ... Nobody gets a free pass."

* On play calling: What Parcells said is he had not yet delineated offensive responsibilities. What he didn't say is he is going to be calling plays. Of course, he hinted a little.

"My last year, I called plays," Parcells said, "and I might do it again this year."

Parcells has never been in a situation before where he had to coach this many of his coaches. So, what is likely to happen is, he'll handle play-calling duties while coaching Maurice Carthon and Sean Payton on what he wants. When Parcells feels comfortable with them, play-calling responsibility might switch hands.

Both Carthon, who is the offensive coordinator, and Payton, who is the assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach, said play-calling would be a big issue. "Coach Parcells will certainly have a great handle on what we are doing offensively, defensively, special teams," Payton said. "We have no idea, right now, who is in the press box and who is on the field, let alone who is calling plays. So I think all of that will sort itself out."

What Parcells anticipates Carthon doing, at least early, is formulating game plans and running meetings while Payton handles the passing game. But Parcells' fingerprints are going to be all over everything.

"I just can't go and not pay attention to what is important," Parcells said. "There are going to be a lot of things that they don't know how I want it."

* On special teams: Parcells said he is going to put a priority on fixing them. The key, he said, is when the Cowboys acquire players, whether in free agency or the draft, to make sure the team has a vision for how that player will help on special teams.

Every backup needs to contribute in some way, as do some starters.

* On free agents: Parcells said he is working on making decisions on the team's own free agents. One is left tackle Flozell Adams, and Parcells already has talked to Adams and his agent.

"Would I like to sign Flozell? Sure I would. Yeah, I would," Parcells said. "We are going to make an effort to do what we can do. It's probably one of the first things we've talked about."

The Cowboys could slap the franchise tag on Adams again. They are still in the discussion stages. They also have to decide whether to pick up Kevin Hardy's option and whether to sign Brandon Noble. Parcells said they would get closer to making decisions in the coming weeks.

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