Second-guessing draft picks shows a rare side of Parcells

The mere mention of Bill Parcells' name evokes all sorts of images, the most common being of a larger-than-life figure long on toughness and short on compromise.

You either do it Parcells' way, or you do it somewhere else.

One image not commonly associated with the Big Tuna is someone who openly discusses his mistakes. Part of that is because, during his illustrious NFL career, he hasn't made many. Part of that is because, well, the Big Tuna is known for his whale-sized ego. He rarely, if ever, presented himself to reporters as anything less than large and in charge.

His Tuesday discussion with Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald was different. Parcells clearly seemed in a reflective mood, and what was striking was his second-guessing of a couple of significant player-personnel decisions during his two-plus seasons as executive vice president of football operations for the Miami Dolphins from 2008 to 2010.

The most notable was the decision, in 2008, to draft offensive tackle Jake Long No. 1 overall instead of quarterback Matt Ryan.

The easy take here is that passing on Ryan was a huge blunder because he has quickly blossomed into one of the top quarterbacks in the game, and the Dolphins are still in a post-Dan Marino funk. But Long is no slouch. He's a Pro Bowl player with many years of excellence ahead of him.

Parcells also flogged himself for another quarterbacking decision: the choice of Pat White in the second round in 2009. He said the Dolphins "violated their principles" by being so caught up in seeing White's athleticism and running skills as a perfect fit for their "Wildcat" package that they overlooked his shortcomings as a passer.

Such admissions are a big deal and perhaps indicate that Parcells is finally at a point in which he is truly ready to separate himself from day-to-day decision-making for a team and settle into retirement with some television-analyst work on the side.

Parcells has fooled us before. He walks away, gets the itch, and a team in trouble invites him back.

There are critics who say his time in Miami was a bust because the Dolphins didn't win enough and continue to have question marks at quarterback. But they are conveniently forgetting the team, which combined for seven wins in 2006 and 2007, was significantly better when he left than when he arrived.

Mistakes and all.

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

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