"Total control!" was Bill Parcells' mantra when he signed that big contract with the Jets. He got it all, including the final say on personnel.
That's why the Nutty Professor has been taking the heat for the Jets' quarterback situation in the wake of Vinny Testaverde's season-ending torn Achilles tendon. Last March Parcells sent Glenn Foley packing to Seattle, and decided to go with Ray Lucas as the No. 2 guy. In August he acquired Rick Mirer, while brazenly insisting they wouldn't need a more proven backup.
The other side of the coin is the Bills, who have two $5 million quarterbacks, although it won't make much difference if they can't Heimlich maneuver their running game.
A mini survey on what sort of quarterback insurance is carried by the NFL's other contenders and pretenders:
Jacksonville: With Vinny in a cast, the AFC favorite's role is a Florida monopoly, the Jaguars and Dolphins. After Rob Johnson was traded to Buffalo, the Jags protected themselves by drafting Jonathan Quinn of Middle Tennessee in the third round last year. Quinn threw 64 passes last year, which is 64 more than another rookie, Brian Griese, John Elway's successor in Denver. Quinn's passer rating was just 62.4 but this summer he looked like a quick learner. If Mark Brunell went down, the Jags might have some hope remaining.
Miami: Jimmy Johnson is from the Parcells' school of total control. When Craig Erickson proved to be a blind alley, J.J. traded for 49er flop Jim Druckenmiller. After drafting him in the first round in '97, the Niners didn't trust him to play a down last year. His major accomplishment this summer was beating a rape rap in Virginia. If Dan Marino is lost then all is lost.
Denver: Mike Shanahan made the definitive statement on Bubby Brister three weeks ago when he benched him in favor of the untried Griese.
Green Bay: No wonder the Packers dealt Mirer to the Jets. They still have Matt Hasselback! OK, he's never played a down in the NFL but he did throw nine touchdown passes in the exhibition season. He might get the Pack through a game or two.
Minnesota: Before they traded Brad Johnson to Washington, the Vikings had the best 1-2 combination in the league. They replaced Johnson with a great arm, Jeff George. If Randall Cunningham got hurt, George could come into a game and throw for 400 yards and four touchdowns. If the going got tough? Foggidaboudit!!
Atlanta: Dan Reeves is another control freak. He brought Danny Kanell over from his old team, the Giants, to be No. 2 and Kanell promptly played himself into No. 3. The Dirty Bird fans got a look at life without Chris Chandler near the end of the Minnesota game last week. When Chandler left the field the Falcons flat-lined. Tony Graziani is the backup who could be playing until Chandler's hamstring heals. Cheery news in the NFC West.
Giants: Kent Graham looked like the old Kent when the New York defense beat Tampa Bay last week. A few more of those and Kerry Collins, being paid four times what the starter is paid, will make Graham No. 2.
Dallas: Troy Aikman did get hurt last season and the Cowboys still won the NFC East, in part because Jason Garrett brought competence, if not brilliance, to the job. Garrett is a Princeton man. He won't dazzle you but he won't get you in deep trouble, either. His passer rating was just four points lower than Aikman's and he played enough to launch 158 passes.
New England: Drew Bledsoe established himself as a top-of-the-line gamer last year when he played through the pain of a broken finger on his passing hand. Nevertheless, the Pats protected themselves by signing journeyman John Friesz as his backup. Considering the Jets' carnage and the Bills' flat start, their quarterback situation should make New England a more serious player in the division than was first anticipated.
Indianapolis: The Colts are going to be the spoiler in the tight AFC East, as long as Peyton Manning is protected as well as he has been since turning pro. If Manning misses a few games, Steve Walsh is another experienced, brainy guy with little arm who can keep a team afloat for a few weeks.
Tennessee: The Nashville fans booed Steve McNair in the midst of his career-best passing game last week. With McNair now out at least six weeks, they'll try to be Neil O'Donnell fans. On the other hand, I'll bet the Jets wish O'Donnell was still on their roster right now.
San Francisco: Steve Young appeared eligible to collect Social Security last week in Jacksonville. First-year man Jeff Garcia is his backup. The message from Garcia: "I'm not ready for prime time."
Arizona: Jake Plummer will have enough trouble getting through the season due to all the free-agent departures allowed by the Cards' miserly owner, Billy Bidwill. If he gets nicked, the backup is Dave Brown, who couldn't do it for the Giants.
Tampa Bay: Trent Dilfer and his new backup, Eric Zeier, could be changing roles any minute.
Pittsburgh: If the Steelers had a good backup he'd be starting.