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|The Dolphins' executive vice-president of football operations Bill Parcells hopes to turn around his fifth team.|
Bill Parcells knows the numbers by heart. He can recite them at the drop of a helmet. The Patriots were 9-39 the three years before he took them over.
The Jets were 10-38. The Cowboys were 15-33. He knows the numbers and he knows he reversed them in all three places, as well as at his first stop when he took over a sickly New York Giants team and won two Super Bowls with them.
Now he's been lured to Miami to try and resurrect a team that went 1-15 a year ago and has been in decline since the retirement of Dan Marino what seems decades ago. Parcells brought in 44 new players, including 22 rookies, dumped Pro Bowl staples Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas and quickly signed Chad Pennington after the Jets released him to make room for Brett Favre.
Pennington settles down a shaky situation at quarterback for the time being, assuming he has fully recovered from the two shoulder surgeries that have cut down his already suspect arm strength. But the true rebuilding of the Dolphins began with the drafting of left tackle Jake Long with the No. 1 overall pick and the importing of nose tackle Jason Ferguson, who has been with Parcells at the Jets and the Cowboys. That's how Parcells remodels -- from the inside of the interior lines outward.
"I think I know how to turn it around," Parcells has said. He's already done it in four other places. Given a couple more years he'll do it again, although for the first time without also being the head coach. Claiming he's now a "guidance counselor" for coaches and players, his role is different but the job is the same.
On the hot seat
Charlie Anderson is little known around the league after starting only five games in four years with the Texans, but Parcells imported him to play outside linebacker and get to the quarterback. In a sense, he's replacing Jason Taylor, a former league Defensive Player of the Year and the face of the Dolphins' defense for more than a decade. That's enough heat for anybody.
Linebacker Joey Porter was in the doghouse early with Parcells but quickly got out of it and now has his support. Parcells knows he can still get after the quarterback and make impact plays if he's healthy, but nagging injuries have hounded Porter all summer. He had only six sacks and two interceptions a year ago working in departed Dom Capers' ill-defined role for him. New coordinator Paul Pasqualoni intends to utilize all of Porter's rush skills. If he's healthy that will pay dividends.
Hard row to hoe
They open the season against Brett Favre and the Jets, then have to journey to Arizona and New England before a bye, and then come back against the powerful Chargers. Those four games could make for a long year for first-year coach Tony Sparano and his staff.
Dolphins will be better than you think if ...
Ricky Williams explodes. Ronnie Brown is expected to again be Miami's lead back but he's coming off a serious knee injury and has had aches and pains all summer. Williams hasn't rushed for 1,000 yards since 2003. At 31 he's at a vulnerable age for running backs, but he's only carried the ball 283 times the past five years. He could be the pounding runner Parcells is looking for.
Dolphins will be worse than you think if ...
Chad Pennington's arm strength is seriously depleted after offseason shoulder surgeries the past two years. Pennington has always been an accurate passer and was last year, completing 69 percent of his throws. But he had nine interceptions, many at critical junctures, and was 1-7 as a starter before being benched because he simply could not throw the ball downfield. He has altered his mechanics to compensate and is well-versed in the offense run by Dan Henning, for whom he played as a rookie with the Jets. But if he can't get the ball downfield and Miami has to go with Josh McCown or John Beck, this season will be longer than Parcells had hoped.