Bill Parcells...Genius or Has Been?

John LewisSenior Writer IFebruary 28, 2008

Love him or hate him, Bill Parcells begins another journey to prove he's still got it.

The Miami Dolphins hired him to be the Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the 2008 season.  But before he decided to come out of retirement, for the fourth time, Parcells re-invented the coaching position.

When Parcells took over the New York Giants in 1983, they were a team that had posted just one winning season in the previous 10 years. After a tough first season, Parcells guided the team to a 9-7 and 10-6 record over the next two years, and earned them their first back-to-back play-off appearances since 1961-1963. In 1986, he led the Giants to the first of two Super Bowls.  In the 1986 season, the 14-2 Giants routed the Denver Broncos, 39-20.

Parcells led the Giants back to the Super Bowl in 1990 and beat the Buffalo Bills, 20-19. Parcells retired from football after the Super Bowl due to health problems. During his tenure, the Giants had secured three division titles (1986, 1989, 1990), had only two losing seasons (the Giants went 6-9 during the strike year of 1987) and tallied an 8-3 playoff record.

After a two-year sabbatical, Parcells returned, in 1993, to be the head coach for the New England Patriots. Within two years, he coached the team to a 10-6 record and its first playoff game in eight years. In 1996, he guided the Patriots to the Super Bowl but lost to the Green Bay Packers, 35-21.

After several arguments with ownership, Parcells left the Patriots and retired again. 

While Parcells had decided to leave, his contract did not allow him to coach anywhere else.  The New York Jets were able to get around that and hired him.  In his first season with the Jets, the team barely missed the playoffs with a record of 9-7. In 1998, the Jets went to the playoffs with a 12-4 record but lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game.

After starting the 1999 season 4-8, and were in danger of finishing below .500, the Jets would finish 8-8, but out of the playoffs. In 1999, Bill Parcells retired from football for the third time, vowing that he would not coach again. He remained with the Jets one more year as general manager.

Following three straight 5-11 seasons, Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys hired Bill Parcells to be the head coach in 2003. In his first season with the Cowboys, he led them to the playoffs with a 10-6 record (losing to the eventual NFC Champion Carolina Panthers in the opening round), thus making him the first head coach in NFL history to guide four different teams to the playoffs.

The next season the team would be riddled with injuries and scandals and the Cowboys finished the season 6-10.  The Cowboys improved their defense before the 2005 season and went 9-7, missing the playoffs by one game.

In 2006 the Cowboys signed controversial wide receiver Terrell Owens, and while Owens and Parcells had their differences, the team was fairly successful. They finished the season with a 9-7 overall record but failed to win the NFC East Division after a 23-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. They were able to clinch a playoff berth as the 5th seed in the NFC, eventually losing 21-20 against the Seahawks in Seattle on January 6th, on a botched hold by Tony Romo during a field goal attempt.

Parcells would finish his Dallas stint with a 34-32 record and no playoff wins.

Along the way, Parcells has had success in grooming his assistant coaches for eventual head coaching positions of their own. Former Parcells assistants who are currently head coaches in either the NFL or the college ranks include:  Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots, Tom Coughlin with the New York Giants, Sean Payton with the New Orleans Saints, Romeo Crennel with the Cleveland Browns, Eric Mangini with the New York Jets, Tony Sparano with the Miami Dolphins, Al Groh with the University of Virginia and Charlie Weis with the University of Notre Dame.

Now Parcells has his work cut out for him, return the Miami Dolphins to their old winning ways.  Good luck with that one.