Commentary: Bill Parcells deserves his share of blame for Miami Dolphins' mediocrity this season
By Greg Stoda Palm
Beach Post Staff Writer
DAVIE — This is all happening on Bill Parcells' watch.
Let's not forget that part just because he isn't walking the corridors anymore at Miami Dolphins Inc. He's still on the hook for the mess this season has become just as he'll deserve credit if the Dolphins turn things around in the next couple of years and establish themselves as a force rather than a farce.
Parcells took the Dolphins' money and ran back in September when he reduced his role from executive vice president of football operations to consultant, disengaging himself from the franchise for all intents and purposes.
But that doesn't absolve him of responsibility for Miami's two-season slide into mediocrity since what was viewed as a Parcells-orchestrated revival.
He took charge as Dolphins czar three years ago this week, and Miami promptly responded with an 11-5 record in 2008 and an AFC East title. It was a stunning recovery from the previous season's 1-15 disaster. A job well done, indeed, and not even a home playoff loss to Baltimore dulled enthusiasm regarding Parcellsian possibilities. He had hired a rookie head coach in Tony Sparano and a rookie general manager in Jeff Ireland and - Presto! - had made the Dolphins relevant.
Sure, he had been lucky, because the schedule was accommodating and because Chad Pennington fell into Parcells' lap after being released by the Jets.
Not even the Dolphins' dissolve to 7-9 last season, punctuated by Pennington's early and season-ending shoulder injury, dimmed expectations for what the Parcells-Ireland-Sparano triumvirate might accomplish. There was a sense of good things to come.
But that was then.
Now, the Dolphins exist as an unbalanced scale. Miami's defense is among the best in the game, but its offense - a whole appreciably less than the sum of its parts - is abysmal. The offense has produced just 21 touchdowns and frequently is more a liability than an asset to the overall effort.
The offensive line, as usual, is a monotonous work in progress.
The running game, featuring Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, is weak.
The Dolphins could have two receivers with at least 80 catches apiece in the same season for the first time in franchise history, but Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess aren't scary enough to force an opponent to construct a special strategy to defend either of them.
And, most pointedly, questions still abound about Chad Henne as a long-term starting quarterback.
That's all on Parcells.
To his everlasting chagrin, Parcells once commented as a coach that he should get to buy the groceries if he was going to cook the meal. Well, he bought these Miami groceries in an almost total reconstruction of the roster ... and the meals ain't so tasty.
Parcells' standard declaration has been that a team is what its record says it is. The Dolphins, by such measure, are as average as their 7-7 record indicates. Miami has lost more games than it has won since the beginning of last season, and there's little reason to expect significant improvement any time soon unless the offense discovers a playmaker and the defense continues to be excellent.
The words written in this space more than three months ago are pertinent: Parcells' worth will be measured more accurately by what happens this season than what happened in his first year in charge.
Is the roster better than it was when Parcells showed up? Yes. Does that roster invite visions of championships, which Parcells was famous for delivering as a coach once upon a time? No.
Miami, in fact, more closely resembles oafish Buffalo than titan New England to use two of its AFC East playmates for comparison.
That's why negative speculation concerning the job security of Sparano and Ireland is gaining momentum as reports surface that team owner Stephen Ross, who hired neither man nor Parcells, might be interested in making changes.
I haven't visited with (Ross), no," Sparano said Monday. "That's not my problem right now. My problem is to get ready for the Detroit Lions. That's what I'm charged with. Everything else is out of my control. Let somebody else deal with it."
It won't be Parcells, who has left the building.
But here's to holding him accountable for what's going on.