Just as so many of us thought the idea of Bill Parcells coaching for Jerry Jones was inconceivable, so too is the idea of Bill Belichick scowling through the halls of Valley Ranch. There are some specifics, however, that make such a scenario plausible, only with a tiny hitch, and it’s not the one you think.
It begins with a head coaching vacancy that grows increasingly certain. Jerry Jones told reporters at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Tuesday not to take it as a negative that Jason Garrett has not been given a contract extension. It is widely believed this is the final year of Coach Process’ contract, meaning he is the lamest of ducks next to Rangers manager Ron Washington.
Not sure anyone in the final year of a contract in any profession takes it as a positive when he knows he could be without a job when that contract expires.
In defense of Jerry, not even Jerry could justify handing Garrett an extension after the previous three-plus years. This is the longest stretch in Jerry’s tenure as owner that the Cowboys have missed the playoffs.
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For the first time in recorded history, Jerry is going to let this play out before showering one of his guys with money. Unlike Jay Ratliff, Roy Williams I, Roy Williams II, Miles Austin and on and on, Garrett is going to have to earn this extension, and despite his words of perhaps changing the roles and responsibilities of coordinators Bill Callahan and Monte Kiffin, everything looks to be about the same in 2014 as it was in 2013, 2012, 2011 and, really, 2010.
Jerry is preaching continuity, and as stale as that sounds to you or me, it’s what he is doing until he changes his mind. Right now, he believes this will all work out in 2014. When it doesn’t, that’s when Belichick becomes a remote possibility.
Patriots QB Tom Brady is going to be 37 this year, and by the looks of it, the dynasty that he and Belichick built in New England is just about over, meaning the latter will depart when his meal-ticket QB retires. Belichick might believe his own headlines, but even he knows that, without Brady, he is no super genius.
Belichick is a former disciple of Bill Parcells, has an ego and, despite having more money than he knows what to do with, is too young (61) to quit. Much the way Parcells was drawn to the Cowboys, the chance to win with America’s Team can be alluring to a lifer football man such as Belichick. Parcells called it “the big room.”
Parcells, who remains friends with Belichick, could give his former protégé an honest scouting report, beginning with the fact he genuinely likes Jerry. On the surface, it would seem impossible that these two men would be buddies, but there existed a genuine friendship between them.
And, in hindsight, we can say with clarity the only major decision that was forced on Bill was Terrell Owens. You might remember Bill received a small, seven-figure raise before Mr. Owens came to town. From a personnel standpoint, Bill pretty much ran the Cowboys the way he wanted.
The biggest hitch in this fantasy equation is not Brady retiring, or Belichick leaving, but Jerry. Jerry has repeatedly said he “tried it once” with a Parcells-type coach, and he is convinced it didn’t work. That turning everything over to the head coach didn’t work.
Disregard that when Bill arrived in 2003 the Jerry-assembled roster was a joke, the quarterback was Quincy Carter and that by the time he left he had built a team that went on to post the best record in the NFC with Wade Phillips as its head coach. Although the people at Valley Ranch scoff at Parcell’s track record in terms of personnel (they never forgave him for Bobby Carpenter), it was a team he built that was “around it” for many years.
In Jerry’s tenure, Jimmy Johnson built a Super Bowl winner. Bill Parcells built a playoff contender.
Jerry has built neither.
Right now, Jerry is still dug in with The Process, but another blah season and he will change his mind. Just as he did at the end of the Dave Campo era, he will have no other choice. And despite his best spin, he continues to cut the legs out from his head coach — this time telling the players he’s out if they don’t win.
Perhaps if 2014 does not go the way he envisions then he may change his mind, should a Bill Belichick or a Bill Cowher be available, about the type of head coach he wants to coach his football team. We never thought Parcells would work for him, so why not the other Bill?
Follow Mac Engel on The Big Mac Blog on www.star-telegram.com/sports/.