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Parcells takes another step away from the Dolphins

Bill Parcells' slow but steady departure from the Dolphins continued over the weekend when he cleared out of his office and decided his work with Miami would take on a different, more detached style than it was even recently in his role as consultant.

A club source just confirmed an ESPN report that Parcells is no longer taking part in day-to-day operations of the team. Starting Monday, Parcells was no longer intent on being at his post every day as he had been through even last week.

"Bill is still performing his duties to the Dolphins," the club source said. "But he's choosing to do it in a different fashion."

That new fashion is from afar. Parcells will rarely be at the team's training facility from now on and may not attend any home games, either. He never attended road games, even when he served as executive vice president for football operations.

Parcells yielded that title and job the first week of the regular season. It was the first step in what is certain to be a total disconnect from the Dolphins after the 2010 season ends. Monday's step was the second such step.

Parcells will continue to do the things he enjoys as he collects the remainder of his 2010 salary: He actually likes to grind hour after hour, studying tape of college players. He typically does that work starting in November so that likely will still happen, according to a source.

But unlike past years when Parcells studied players, then set the agenda for drafting them, he will have little if any say in the April 2011 draft, according to a second club source.

Parcells also will no longer be involved in helping the current players on the roster with tips or motivational tweaks. He will no longer be "down the hall," as coach Tony Sparano liked to say, for the moments the coach asked Parcells for his opinion.

And he will not be watching practices first-hand and suggesting to GM Jeff Ireland ways to address weaknesses on the roster.

So ultimately what does this mean for the Dolphins?

First, it is not a distraction. Coach Tony Sparano will answer a few questions about it Wednesday. Players might get a couple also. That's it. The truth is Parcells has purposefully had little affect on the locker room this year so the team will not suffer a great degree of distraction as it prepares for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But there is fallout. No doubt about that.

The safety net for Ireland and Sparano is pretty much gone. Parcells had removed it from Sparano a while back, refusing to correct what he saw as mistakes by the head coach or his assistants for fear of overshadowing their authority.

But he had no such fear of keeping Ireland from stepping in obvious muck. He correct possible missteps and went another direction, if necessary. Now Ireland is wholly and solely responsible for Miami's personnel decisions and Parcells is even more removed from the process than he was even last week.

And that, by the way, was quite removed. For example: Remember the first week of the season when the Dolphins set their initial 53 man roster? Jake Grove was on that roster with Parcells in charge. A few days later when Parcells stepped back and Ireland took over, the GM waived Grove.

Ireland didn't ask for permission. He told Parcells he was making the move and then did it.

Now Parcells will get this information via a phone call rather than perhaps a personal chat with Ireland in his office. No, that's not a big difference. But there is a subtle change.

The biggest change, the long-term effect is in that Miami instantly loses the credibility of having Bill Parcells at the helm. He had a track record. He won Super Bowls. He was proven. And so if he said Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano were good, they were good.

Now, neither Ireland nor Sparano have anyone vouching for them. They must sink or swim based on two things: Wins and losses.

They win, we're good, they're good, ownership is good, everyone's good.

They lose, as they did last year at 7-9, and suddenly there will be much questioning, second-guessing, wondering, wringing of hands, gnashing of teeth. I exaggerate, but you get the drift.

One man's word will no longer be enough to say, "All is well, we're on course."

Because that man is all but gone from Miami.

 

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