By Steve Weinstein
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Though considered the more cerebral of the pair, Belichick engaged in anything but Socratic dialogue in a five-year hitch as the Cleveland Browns' head coach. Belichick was embroiled in a verbal Cold War with the Cleveland press almost from the minute he took over the Browns. Countless written attacks engendered tight-lipped responses and an almost robotic demeanor that further fueled the ire of the local media and, after correctly releasing hometown hero Bernie Kosar, the fans. Though being out of the spotlight has softened Belichick's perception, even Parcells has claimed the Jets' head-coach-in-waiting is not very charismatic.
But charisma doesn't win football games and dictatorships are generally efficient. Parcells has a 139-97-1 record as a head coach. With Belichick coordinating his defense, Parcells has won more than 62 percent of the games. "Today it's more important in winning football games to communicate with your players first rather than being nice to the press," says Banks. "Owners don't have the patience and the game is evolving too much to worry about the press. You have to be on one page with the players." Linebacker Bryan Cox was brought up to speed just prior to the Jets' trip to Miami when Parcells subtly hinted that Cox was running out of gas; he placed a half-filled fuel can next to the former Dolphin's locker. Message received: Cox sacked Marino once and had four tackles in a 21-16 New York victory.
Cohesion among players starts with cohesion among coaches, a task made much easier when you've worked side by side for more than a decade. Although deeply involved in preparing the team's game plan each week, Parcells becomes more of a manager on game day, leaving Belichick to direct the defense from play to play. And having had the experience of being a head coach in Cleveland, Belichick seems to have become almost as important as Parcells in the Jets hierarchy.
When Parcells suddenly left New England to return to the swamps of Jersey in 1997, he was initially prevented from accepting the coaching reins by an angry Patriots front office. The Jets filled the leadership void with Belichick, who took over as interim head coach, and revamped the club's front office from the pro personnel director to Parcells's secretary. When Parcells was eventually installed, Belichick stepped aside and into a position as assistant head coach and the unofficial successor to Parcells when he retires from the sideline.
The result has been a team that finally "gets it," a team that finally believes in itself, and a team that might finally be heading back to the Super Bowl. The symbiotic relationship between the two Bills has created that team it's doubtful either one alone could have brought the Jets to such lofty heights so soon.