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"This is all part of the process," he said. "It's just another step in the process. We're going to remember how we feel as a football team because we plan on being back in this situation and we want to remember how this feels."
Sparano, a former offensive line coach in Dallas, joined Bill Parcells with the Dolphins and the makeover in Miami was just as impressive as in Atlanta. The Dolphins were 1-15 a year ago before cleaning house, and Sparano guided them to an 11-5 mark that won the AFC East. They were hosting Baltimore on Sunday in a wild-card game.
Sparano echoes Smith's philosophy on establishing a winning identity.
"You have to have some kind of luck," Sparano said. "But I think part of it is a philosophy you try to put into place. You want to make sure they understand from Day 1 that if you're a guy who thinks being in the training room is a good habit, it can get you beat. Not being on the practice field, we don't get better at fundamentals and our techniques."
Only one team has ever improved as much as Miami's 10-game turnaround: the 1999 Indianapolis Colts.
Just four coaches received votes despite a year in which a half-dozen did exemplary work. Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, the longest-tenured coach in the league, received three votes, while last year's winner, Bill Belichick of New England, got one.
Smith is the second Falcons coach to win the award; Dan Reeves got it in 1998 -- when the Falcons went to the Super Bowl.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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