Once upon a time, Drew Bledsoe couldn’t stand Bill Parcells. Heck, the situation was so bad that Bledsoe’s parents couldn’t stand Parcells.
After 13 years, Bledsoe is lucky enough to have gotten a second chance to make his relationship with the gruff Parcells work.
Dallas improved to 4-2 with an impressive 16-13 overtime win over the New York Giants on Sunday. Much of the credit obviously goes to the Dallas defense, which has become increasingly stout. The Cowboys, who are one of the hardest-hitting teams in the NFL, are beginning to buy into Parcells’ system.
And doing it quickly.
By contrast, Bledsoe was a harder sell. Born and raised in the West, Bledsoe didn’t mix with Parcells’ smart-aleck, East Coast style. That part is well established. However, what Bledsoe only came to understand after going through other coaches and other teams (Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick, Gregg Williams and Mike Mularkey in New England and Buffalo) that Parcells was probably the one who understood him best.
Not only did Parcells, who took Bledsoe with the No. 1 overall pick in 1993, know how to build an offensive line and running game for Bledsoe, he knew how to push him to be better. In 1996, Parcells got the Patriots to the Super Bowl against Green Bay and even built a plan for that game around letting Bledsoe throw.
It didn’t work, but it was the best chance the Patriots had.
In the meantime, Bledsoe has become a whole lot tougher. He learned in 2001 in New England that he was a disposable part as the Patriots made the transition from him to Tom Brady. He learned that he needs a lot of help after getting hit so much in Buffalo the past two years.
Mostly, he learned he needed Parcells and the tough style that the coach employs. It also seems to be rubbing off on Bledsoe at this point in his career. Last Sunday, he chided receiver Keyshawn Johnson for a bad play. When Johnson yelled at him, Bledsoe stayed right there in Johnson’s face. The two eventually worked it out.
On Sunday, Bledsoe had his problems (one interception and two lost fumbles), but was efficient with the passing game despite the lack of a consistent running game (92 yards on 38 carries). Bledsoe kept the chains moving by completing 26-of-37 for 312 yards and a touchdown. He even completed eight to Johnson for 120 yards, showing no fall out from the sideline tiff.
In overtime, he was exceptionally clutch, hitting 3-of-4 passes for 49 of the 51 yards the Cowboys drove for the game-winning field goal.
After 13 years, Bledsoe seems to have gotten the big picture.
Carroll on the clock
One of the most famous comeback plays in the history of the NFL is the “Clock Play” in 1994 when Hall of Famer Dan Marino led the Dolphins back by faking a spike to stop the clock and then throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Mark Ingram for the game-winning score.
On Saturday, No. 1-ranked USC pulled off its own version of the clock play for a dramatic 34-31 win at Notre Dame. With seven seconds left, Trojans quarterback Matt Leinart dove in from the 1-yard line rather than spike the ball. Leinart never ran a fake, but the play still caught the Irish by surprise.
But the funny part is that as Leinart was lining up for the play, USC coach Pete Carroll was signaling for a spike, perhaps adding to the trickery.
Carroll should know the situation well, he was the coach of the Jets in 1994.
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