To rebuild Dolphins, Parcells hires a contractor he trusts

Tony Sparano (center, with glasses) and Bill Parcells spent four seasons (2003-2006) together guiding the Dallas Cowboys' fortunes. Now they are reunited in Miami, with Parcells upstairs and Sparano calling the shots as the Dolphins' new head coach. James D. Smith/Icon SMI

Once Bill Parcells was hired to run the Miami Dolphins front office, long-time Parcells assistants joked about what the Parcells interview would be like.

"Interview process?" one former assistant said. "Bill's just going to call you up and ask you if you are coming."

Tony Sparano got that call and Wednesday became the new head coach of the Dolphins. The key to the equation is that he had to be a Parcells guy. Entrusted with the power to do whatever is needed to turn around the Dolphins, Parcells wasn't going to hire an outsider. He fired head coach Cam Cameron and general manager Randy Mueller because they had not worked for him directly.

Sparano coached tight ends and offensive line for Parcells during their four years together with the Dallas Cowboys. The ends and offensive line are two important areas for Parcells. In the pros, Parcells always featured the tight ends. From Mark Bavaro with the Giants to Ben Coates with the New England Patriots to Jason Witten with the Cowboys, Parcells usually had a tight end who would catch at least 70 balls. With Dolphins starting tight end David Martin coming off a 34-catch first season in Miami, expect Parcells and Sparano to be looking to upgrade that position through free agency or the draft.

Being an offensive line coach -- and a good one in Dallas -- also helped Sparano get the job because Parcells believes the game is won along the offensive and defensive lines. Next to the uncertainty at quarterback, the offensive line is the biggest unit for repair for the new Dolphins staff. The line allowed 42 sacks and was inconsistent all season because of questions about talent.

Once Parcells fired offensive line coach Hudson Houck -- one of the best in football -- everyone in the league knew Sparano was going to be the head coach because of his experience in coaching the offensive line. Other than maybe rookie center Samson Satele and tackle Vernon Carey, the rest of the line is probably going to be replaced over the next two seasons.

Sparano is expected to bring two of Parcells' prize former defensive coaches with him from Dallas -- secondary coach Todd Bowles and linebacker coach Paul Pasqualoni. Parcells hired Jeff Ireland and Brian Gaine, both of them from Dallas, to help him in the front office.

Even though the defense failed the Dolphins last year, they are probably further along in the personnel development on defense than they are offense. For three years under Nick Saban and Cam Cameron, the Dolphins had been trying to find bigger players to fit a 3-4 defense. Saban's problem was not finding enough young ones. Cameron didn't have enough time to do too much.

Offense, though, is going to be the longer, tougher project, which is why it was important for Parcells to hire a coach experienced in protection and running offenses.

Sparano is going to be rebuild the offensive line. They will have to get younger and faster at the receiver position. Except for Ted Ginn Jr., the Dolphins lack big-play ability at receiver. Tight end needs upgrading.

But the biggest decision facing Parcells and Sparano is at quarterback. Trent Green isn't expected back because of his age and concussion problems. Cleo Lemon is a free agent and might not be re-signed. John Beck, last year's second-round pick, might not fit the leadership profile Parcells likes, but that is still to be determined. Were Parcells in charge a year ago, you get the feeling he might have taken Brady Quinn with the ninth pick in the draft instead of Ginn Jr. because Quinn worked with former Parcells assistant Charlie Weis.

At the moment, Beck isn't a Parcells guy. To be a Dolphin, the key to getting in the door is being a Parcells guy.

John Clayton, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame writers' wing, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.