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Parcells might be available to Saints -- but why would they want him?

by | CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist
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Bill Parcells has not coached a team to a playoff win since the 1998 Jets. (US Presswire)  
Bill Parcells has not coached a team to a playoff win since the 1998 Jets. (US Presswire)  

Just a hunch, but commissioner Roger Goodell upholds Sean Payton's suspension, and the Saints are back where they were a week ago -- which is looking for Payton's replacement.

The popular choice is and has been Bill Parcells, mostly because Payton is close to him, has spoken to him and Parcells has acknowledged he's considering the idea. But the Tuna-to-New Orleans rumor seems to have lost momentum, and that's not all that bad, New Orleans.

In fact, I'd suggest if you're serious about having your team and the Super Bowl in the same place this season, you want someone other than Parcells coaching it.

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Because Bill Parcells hasn't won a playoff game in 13 years.

Yeah, I know, the guy is experienced and successful and one of the game's all-time luminaries and all that, but he hasn’t coached since 2006, turns 71 this year and last won a playoff game in January 1999, when he coached the New York Jets.

That was Peyton Manning's first season in the NFL, and if you think that's a long time ago, it's because it is. It was one season before Andy Reid took over in Philadelphia and three before Tom Brady stepped into the New England huddle. He has been to five Super Bowls since.

Nope, Parcells is not a panacea for the Saints, not as an interim head coach he's not -- and let me count the ways.

First, he's not an aspiring young assistant trying to prove himself as head coach. Bill Parcells has nothing to prove. He won division championships, playoff games and two Super Bowls. But he hasn't won squat since the 1998 season when he took the New York Jets to the conference championship game, and you can look it up. In his last five years as a head coach, he's 42-38 and 0-2 in the playoffs.

OK, so he overcame the odds in '98 with Vinny Testaverde as his quarterback, and now he'd have Drew Brees. Big, big difference. But he also got there with Bill Belichick, and that counts for something, No, it counts for a lot, and here's why: With Belichick, he's 117-73-1 and 11-5 in the playoffs; without him, he's 55-57 and 0-3 in the playoffs.

Second, he hasn't been a head coach in more than five years, and that's nothing short of a handicap. When you ask someone to pick up things for one season, you want him to be up to date with your players, your assistants, your philosophy and the game itself. Tell me which one of those boxes Parcells checks off.

That's not a knock on the guy, simply a recognition of what happens when you grow older and step back from your profession. When Joe Gibbs returned to Washington, he was 6-10 in his first season and 30-34 in four. Granted, he took the Redskins to two playoff appearances, which was terrific. But the game had changed. I know Parcells hasn't been away as long as Gibbs, but he has been away ... and that's an issue when you're talking about a one-year deal.

Third, where's the motivation? In previous stops, it was in reconstructing doormats. The Saints are not a doormat. They're the defending NFC South champions. Parcells' job would be to make them Super Bowl champions, and I've already gone over the track record there.

Fourth, there's the impact the hiring of Parcells could ... and should ... have on the rest of the Saints coaching staff. Payton has assistants who are qualified to take over, and look no further than offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael or defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. I can understand if Spagnuolo's not interested. He has no background with the Saints and is trying to learn players' names and install a defense. But Carmichael seems a natural. Passing him or someone else over for a friend who hasn't coached in five years would invite internal friction.

"He's going to lose that coaching staff," said one source at last week's NFL owners' meetings. "Basically, it shows coaches they don't have his support."

I know some people out there who believe Payton doesn't want someone like Carmichael as interim coach because if he's successful -- if he takes the Saints deep into the playoffs or the Super Bowl -- they might want to retain him, meaning ... uh-huh, meaning Sean Payton could be out of a job.

So, instead, he chooses someone who always moves on.

Yeah, OK, so it's Bill Parcells, and that's why people say it makes sense: Because it's Bill Frickin' Parcells. Only that's my point. What he did as a head coach 10 or 20 years ago was wonderful. What he has done lately is not. I know he resurrected sorry franchises, but he's not blowing up the Saints and turning them into his team. He's simply keeping them on the tracks.

That's a challenge unlike any he has had to assume, and people tell me it should work because this team is better than Dallas and because he has Drew Brees as his quarterback. Except the Saints had Drew Brees last year, too, and they couldn't beat Alex Smith in the playoffs. They had him in 2010 and couldn't get past Seattle.

That was with Sean Payton. This is with someone who hasn't coached in five years and hasn't won a playoff game in 13. Bill Parcells-to-New Orleans is an intriguing idea, but it's one that will get the Saints and Parcells nowhere.

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