- The Washington Times - Friday, January 3, 2003

Was finally losing to archrival Washington after 10 straight victories so painful for Jerry Jones that he's willing to cede some of his power in Dallas?
Or was it the three straight 5-11 seasons by the once-mighty Cowboys that drove Jones to hire Bill Parcells, the NFL's master of quick revivals?
Or was the star-struck Jones simply tired of having the most nondescript coach in a division populated by the Redskins' Steve Spurrier, the New York Giants' Jim Fassel and Philadelphia's Andy Reid?
In any case, the big question in Dallas is how the legendarily prickly Parcells will get along with the egomaniacal Jones. Although Parcells has won everywhere he has been, he also has left unhappiness in the wake of his departure. Late Giants general manager George Young and New England owner Bob Kraft could barely stand to utter his name. And the supposedly smooth succession of Bill Belichick to Parcells' throne with the New York Jets collapsed as the rift between protege and mentor expanded.
One popular theory is that since Parcells would prefer not to deal with the media any more than necessary, he'll be fine with making decisions and letting Jones take the credit. Because Parcells is one of the coaches most obsessed with his organization speaking with one voice, it's hard to see that happening, but perhaps Jones whose relationship with college buddy Jimmy Johnson fell apart in a power struggle after back-to-back Super Bowl titles has realized that he can't win with puppet coaches like Dave Campo.
The Tuna takeover in Texas completes an amazing transformation in the NFC East. The division's coaches were such a motley group in 1999 that Arizona's Vince Tobin was the only one who had won a playoff game. Fassel had lost his postseason test. Washington's Norv Turner hadn't gotten that far in his five years. And Reid and Campo were rookies.
In 2003, the NFC East coaches will be Parcells (two Super Bowl titles, three Super Bowl berths, eight playoff appearances in 15 years); Reid (two NFC East titles and three playoff spots in three years); Fassel (a Super Bowl berth and three playoff appearances in six seasons) and Spurrier (a national college title and 11 bowl games in 12 seasons at Florida).
Other than his relationship with Jones and his impact on whether NFL career rushing leader Emmitt Smith remains a Cowboy, the most fascinating part of Parcells' Dallas debut will be the road games against his former employers, the Giants, Patriots and Jets.
Mentors stay home Seattle's Mike Holmgren who was forced to give up the general manager half of his duties this week by Seahawks president Bob Whitsitt missed out on the postseason despite winning his final three games. However, Holmgren's influence might be seen in the NFC playoffs. Reid, Green Bay's Mike Sherman, San Francisco's Steve Mariucci and Tampa Bay's Jon Gruden are former assistants of his.
In the AFC, the Jets' Herman Edwards is a former right hand man of the coach he'll face tomorrow, Indianapolis' Tony Dungy. Dungy, Edwards and Pittsburgh's Bill Cowher worked for Marty Schottenheimer in Kansas City in 1990 and 1991. Like Holmgren, Schottenheimer whose Chargers collapsed from a 6-1 start to an 8-8 finish will watch the playoffs on TV.
Not much of a finish Anybody notice how the Player of the Year candidates had such lousy final weekends? Chiefs halfback Priest Holmes was out with a bad hip. Oakland's Rich Gannon passed for 79 yards. Colts receiver Marvin Harrison had six catches but for only 28 yards. Packers quarterback Brett Favre threw for 172 yards before being pulled. Dolphins halfback Ricky Williams and Falcons quarterback Michael Vick put up good numbers, but their teams lost critical games, as did the Packers.
Despite missing two games, Holmes finished with 24 touchdowns (third all-time and two short of Marshall Faulk's record) and 2,287 yards from scrimmage (fifth all-time and only 142 shy of Faulk's record). Holmes joined Faulk (2001, 2000), Emmitt Smith (1995) and Jerry Rice (1987) as the only non-kickers to lead the NFL in scoring in the last 20 years. Gannon's 4,689 yards were the seventh most all-time and 142 shy of second place. Not only did Harrison shatter the catch record with 143 but his 1,722 receiving yards were fourth all-time and 126 shy of Rice's mark. Williams' 1,853 rushing yards ranked eighth all-time.
And there were 10 Only 10 current coaches held their jobs in the previous millennium. Fassel, Holmgren, Mariucci, Reid, Atlanta's Dan Reeves and Chicago's Dick Jauron are the NFC veterans. Cowher, Baltimore's Brian Billick, Denver's Mike Shanahan and Tennessee's Jeff Fisher are the only AFC coaches who date to 1999. Cowher (1992), Fisher (1994) and Shanahan (1995) are the only coaches heading into at least their ninth seasons.

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