NFL Lockout News: Bill Parcells Believes “It looks like there could be a little blood in both corners before this is over.”June 1, 2011 – 7:00 am by Steven Cuce
Bill Parcells may not be coaching any longer, but this NFL legend still has the attention of many around the NFL circle. Parcells has been through three labor strikes during his coaching career which began in 1964 and ended in 2006 as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He believes this time around that the NFL lockout may be a little more hostile with the players learning from their past mistakes.
The “Big Tuna” was always known for his exceptional ability to draft, but towards the end of his career his seemed to back away from his Miami Dolphins front office position after a few mediocre drafts highlighted by the fact that he passed on Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan and took Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long. Parcells was always in favor of drafting personnel at positions of emphasis rather then drafting potential busts at star positions. Through it all Parcells won two Super Bowls and had it his way when it came to drafting players and “shopping for the groceries”.
Bill Parcells joined ESPN 101 in St.Louis withZach and The Coach (Rick Venturi) to discuss the advice he would give to the players and owners during the lockout, his strategy of getting his team ready if the lockout were to be lifted, his evaluation of Steve Spagnuolo in his first two seasons with the Rams, the most important attribute he looks for in players when drafting and how much longer he would have coached if the Cowboys didn’t lose that 2007 playoff game to the Seattle Seahawks on Tony Romo’s botched snap on a potential game winning field goal.
What would your advice be to both the players and owners on this lockout dispute?
“I think any of us that have been in football for any length of time even though I’m no longer in it this would have been my fourth labor dispute so to speak…What I kind have observed just as an outsider here recently is the rhetoric is pretty much the same as it always has been. It’s just different people saying it now because they are largely a different group of owners and obviously different representatives representing the players and the different group of players, so the basic rhetoric and the essence of what seems to be important is the same. I think what makes this one a little bit different it seems to be a little bit more hostility then normal. I think there’s a little more adamance on the side of the owners and I think quite apparently the players are learning behavior from past experience in these negotiations is that if they stick to their guns they usually wind up better off. That’s been the case, but it looks like there could be a little blood in both corners before this is over.”
What would your strategy be to get your team ready in a short amount of time if the lockout were to be lifted?
“Coincidentally I always felt like you really do a better job with less time than more time because when you have less time and you have to decide what is really of the utter most importance and you focused immediately on that. Whereas when you have a lot of time to time deliberate as to what to do a lot of times you kind of get off on little tangents. You’re trying to work on stuff that you’re not really sure of yet. I think when time is of the essence you make decisions that are important [saying] ‘We have to absolutely do this’ and you kind of get to it, so I think that’s probably the way I would approach it. I would be kind of writing down ‘Okay I need to get this done. This done. This done’. However long this list is and these are the important things and then these are the ancillary things that I’m hopeful that I could work in, but I just think you approach it with what’s important or most important. You try to put the emphasis there.”
How would you evaluate Coach Spagnuolo in his first two seasons with the Rams?
“I don’t know Steve [Spagnuolo] too well, but I did observe him quite a bit and coached against him. I was in Dallas when he was with the Giants. I always thought he did a good job. It looks like to me that St.Louis and I’m not just saying this because I’m talking on a St.Louis [radio] station is really headed in the right direction. They have the major problem that confronts every franchise in hand and that’s the quarterback. The other three teams there are unsettled at that position, so I think that gives the Rams a good foothold on going forward, but as with every sport defense is very, very important. I do see things improving for the Rams as well. It looks their pass rush is getting better. They have some young, active linebackers. I think that’s the key. I always thought Steven Jackson was a good player. I think to get someone to go along with him would be helpful in this point in time and I think I am not scouting the team here, but quite apparently they could use just a little more firepower. I think that would really enhance [Sam] Bradford’s ability to generate big points because he looks like a guy who is going to be capable of doing that once the firepower increases a little.”
What is the most important attribute you look for in players when drafting and putting a team together?
“I think it’s a combination of…I’m going to put this in a short synopsis form. I think you want good people character wise if you can get them. I also think you need to understand what kind of people are doing these jobs in professional football from a prototypical standpoint and then how big are these tackles? The average guys? How good are these defensive ends? What kind of speed do they have? I think you need to have that kind of in place and really try not compromise your philosophy on personnel. I really think that is something that pulls at an organization from time-to-time because the scout is going to come to you and say ‘Well Coach this guy is really a good football player. He’s a good football player. We need to take him.’ He may be a good football player, but he may not fit for us. He may be able to play in the league, but it’s in a different scheme and different system, so you don’t ever want to get trapped in trying to put square pegs into round holes so to speak because that is a difficult thing to do and you wind up making exceptions from time-to-time and you do that you wind up getting invariably burned. I think trying to get the personnel acquisition business in line with the coaching philosophy…I think that is very, very important. I think the good teams, the team you see have success over the years like New England, like Baltimore, like Pittsburgh, that’s readily apparent to me that that’s in place in those places.”
The last game you coached was the infamous Tony Romo botched snap against the Seahawks [1/6/2007] in the playoffs. Let’s say the snap wasn’t botched. How much longer would your coaching career have been extended?
“That’s a good question. Obviously that is a memory that is a difficult one for me. I remember flying back from Seattle and I was at the age of 66 or so. It’s another off-season, regular season, pre-season, just to get to that opportunity and when you’ve been doing it since 1964 and it’s 2006…that’s a long time. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do it. I wouldn’t say that that one game really had much to do with anything. It just was…I just think it was time to stop coaching because you have to get off the train sometime and I had a difficult time doing that because I do love the game, but I think as far as coaching, it’s a young man’s game and it’s for someone else now.”