Palmer Hooks Up With Parcells, Bledsoe Again

(Editor's Note: Since Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells has hired three new assistant coaches and upgraded the responsibilities of four others, will take a look at their duties in a seven-part series. Today's focus will be on quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer.)

IRVING, Texas - Things are beginning to look a lot like New England, circa 1996, for new Cowboys quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer, and judging by his success a decade ago, that's a good thing.

In 1996, when the Patriots advanced to Super Bowl XXXI, Palmer was the team's quarterbacks coach, and responsible for tutoring Drew Bledsoe, the Cowboys' current starting quarterback who was the Patriots starter back then.

And in 1996 Palmer was also working under fourth-year Pats head coach Bill Parcells . . . and now Parcells is entering his fourth year in Dallas.

If history continues to repeat itself, does this all mean Palmer, Bledsoe and Parcells will be leading the Cowboys to the, uh, Super Bowl?

Maybe that's getting a bit ahead.

But aside from the trio being a decade older and moving much further south, few things have changed for them, really. They've all suffered some disappointment in their careers - a little heartache, since they were all together last - but they're still the same guys, right?

"(Parcells) still knows how to win, he still knows what he wants - he's the same coach," said Palmer, who is expected to have a heavy influence on the Cowboys' offense this year. "Drew's more mature - of course he's in a different stage of his career - but he still works hard and knows how to win."

Parcells was forced to find a new quarterbacks coach after his assistant head coach/passing game coordinator Sean Payton was hired as head coach in New Orleans. While David Lee had the title of quarterbacks coach last year, Payton worked closely with that bunch.

The reunion allows Palmer to relive his greatest success as a professional coach, after struggling at other jobs with mostly poor teams. Palmer was the original head coach of the expansion Cleveland Browns in 1999, lasting two years before being shown the door when Tim Couch never developed and the Browns floundered.

Name: Chris Palmer
Age: 56
Position: Quarterbacks coach
Coaching Experience: 33 years
NFL Experience: 17th year
Coaching Highlights:
Head coach Cleveland Browns (1999-00); Houston Texans offensive coordinator (2001-05); Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator (1997-98); Boston University head coach (1988-89); University of New Haven head coach (1986-87).

Then Palmer found himself in a similar situation with the upstart Houston Texans (2002), working as the team's offensive coordinator throughout its first four years of existence with little success. Palmer became an early-season scapegoat in 2005, getting fired two losses into what would be a 2-14 fallout. But there doesn't seem to be any lingering bitterness with Palmer, just happiness to be working again.

Life goes on.

"Anytime you're coaching it's great," Palmer said. "I spent most of the season watching film and keeping abreast of what other people were doing. Hey, we're in a business where we all know we're going to get fired.

"We just don't know when."

Still very early in his Cowboys tenure, it doesn't appear as if Palmer will be getting fired anytime soon, at least as long as Parcells remains the boss. Of course, Parcells and

Palmer did leave New England after the head coach's fourth year there.

"Chris knows where he is in this world," said Parcells, who first hired Palmer back in 1993 as his wide receivers coach with New England. "Chris wanted to get back in coaching, and he's someone I thought would fit well with Drew and I like Chris personally, and he did a good job for me in the past."

He sure did. Especially in '96, his first year as quarterbacks coach, when Bledsoe threw for 4,086 yards and 27 touchdowns in the quarterback's fourth year, his best NFL season.

Palmer was a good teacher for the young quarterback then, and Parcells said he believes Palmer is still a good coach to have around, especially with so many young offensive coaches on his staff. Since Payton's departure, Parcells has decided to hand over the passing game coordinator's title to wide receivers coach Todd Haley, the first time he's been given that responsibility. And offensive line coach Tony Sparano, promoted to assistant head coach, will only be in his second season as running game coordinator.

"What I like in this kind of situation, I like for Chris to be a steadying voice of reason," Parcells said. "We have some young guys, enthusiastic, so I like Chris to be a steadying influence."

And if Palmer was a steadying influence 10 years ago with a young Bledsoe, evidently not much has changed.

Things are beginning to look a lot like New England, 1996, these days.

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