Saturday, October 18, 2003
New coaches in Dallas and Detroit have different results
DETROIT -- Bill Parcells and Steve Mariucci were hired last
winter to turn around poor teams.
So far, Parcells has done it and Mariucci has not.
Parcells has helped the Dallas Cowboys (4-1) become one of the
top teams in the league. They have won four straight games for
their best start since 1995.
"I don't think it's turned around yet," Parcells said. "I
don't think you can say that at five weeks. I think if you're a
contender for two, three years in a row and everybody knows you're
a lot better team, then I would talk about the team turning around.
"But I was telling the guys around here that I like horse
racing and if they paid off at the half-mile pole, I would have
been rich a long time ago."
Mariucci has not been able to make the Detroit Lions (1-4)
winners. The Lions, coming off a bye, lost four in a row after
beating Arizona in Week 1.
"Naturally, the coaches are going to be under the microscope
because they're both big-name guys who were brought in to fix some
things," Detroit's Ray Brown said. "But it's still early. The
true determination will be made at the end of the year and in the
years to come."
While Dallas looks nothing like its teams that went 5-11 in each
of the past three seasons, Detroit's results are quite similar to
those under fired coach Marty Mornhinweg the previous two years.
The Lions won only one of their first five games last season,
and two of the final 11. In 2001, Detroit started 0-12 and finished
Only one team has lost to Detroit twice over the past 37 games:
"They figure that they can beat us no matter what our record
is," Dallas safety Darren Woodson said. "They have the upper
hand. We have to prove to ourselves that we can beat them now."
There are facts -- or excuses -- to explain why Mariucci hasn't
been able to do what Parcells has.
"We could be sitting here with the same record or he could be
sitting here with our record, I think," Parcells said.
Injuries have hurt Detroit, which began the season with a slim
margin of error even if healthy. The Cowboys have had only minor
bumps and bruises.
The Lions are without their top receiving target (Charles
Rogers), running back (James Stewart), kick returner (Eddie
Drummond), three of their top four cornerbacks (Chris Cash, Andre
Goodman and Chris Watson) and even their punter (John Jett) because
Joey Harrington, who has thrown eight interceptions and four
touchdowns since a strong game against Arizona, has played with a
dislocated index finger on his passing hand for nearly a month.
Detroit's four losses have come against teams with a combined
record of 15-8, and Dallas' opponents have seven wins and 20
Mariucci, however, refused to say those are the reasons Parcells
is off to a better start than he is.
"First of all, he's a heck of a coach. Write that down,"
Mariucci said. "Second, it's very early in the season."
So far, the Cowboys have made the right plays in important
situations and quarterback Quincy Carter has limited his mistakes.
Dallas' defense was solid last season, and it has only gotten
better by adding free agent linebacker Al Singleton and rookie
cornerback Terence Newman.
"They are very, very fast," Harrington said.
Carter and receivers Joey Galloway and Terry Glenn could have
quite a day against a secondary that has only cornerback Dre' Bly
(four interceptions) who opponents are forced to respect.
Parcells has been pleased with how Carter has dedicated his life
"I think he's doing well," Parcells said. "We haven't let
many links out of the choke collar yet. We are still working on
that, but he's doing well.
"All I can ask from the kid is what he's giving right now, and
as long as he keeps giving that, then I'm going to be his biggest
supporter. Once he stops giving it, then I'll be his worst
The Cowboys may see a familiar face when they kick and punt,
because Detroit claimed Reggie Swinton off waivers from Green Bay
on Monday. Swinton, who returned more than 100 kicks and punts for
the Cowboys the past two years, was traded to the Packers by Dallas
on Sept. 30 after losing his job to Zuriel Smith.
"I can't wait until Sunday," Swinton said, "to see what I can
do against my old boys."