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The Heart of the Matter
by Howard Cox

Teams have spent many hours pouring over film, in depth studying of interviews and talks within their camps. They come knowing just who they will add to their roster with each pick. Some enter also planning to make trades to improve their positions or acquire more picks. They know everything about the players who desire to make the professional level. How fast they cover 40 yards, how many times they can bench press 250 lbs., how far they can jump, how high they can jump, how much weight they can squat and a number of other criteria thought to inform teams on how the players will perform at the top of their chosen profession. Among the most important attributes studied about each player is their height and weight. A player’s stock can drop just simply because he is an inch too short or a few pounds over/under weight compared to what is considered the “ideal” size for the position they play.

One player, who eagerly awaited his name to be called, was among those considered too small to make much of a difference at the pro level of football. At 5’9” and about 200 lbs. he is thought to be undersized to become an everyday Running Back. The first round began, team after team named who they wanted and the young player was not among them. Dallas’ turn came around, at #17, and Emmitt Smith finally got his aspiration. The commissioner clearly stated, “With the 17th pick, in the 1990 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys take Emmitt Smith, Running Back from the University of Florida.” Elation passed through his very soul as he comprehended he was going to get the chance to prove himself in the National Football League. Everyone knows how that pick ended. Pretty good for an undersized player thought to not be much of a threat. What everyone didn’t know was the size of the heart inside that pushed him to succeed.

Fast forward to last season and remember the fans, including myself, wondering just what Parcells and company were on when they traded away from any choice of Running Back they wished. The word came down confirming our worst fear, Dallas had traded away their first round pick. When next they came around a groan went up from the masses upon hearing the name Julius Jones. Who was this guy from Notre Dame? He was no Stephen Jackson. How could he possibly be the answer to take up the yoke of the Cowboys’ running game? By the end of the season that question was forgotten and I, along with all Dallas fans, were walking around with a swagger discussing the return of the proud heritage recently vacated by Emmitt Smith. Missing one year of college football had not daunted his desire to achieve the ambition of being an NFL Running Back.

Other players in the league overcome much the same “doubt” due to size. Just ask opposing offensive players who have collided with Dat Nguyen or Zach Thomas. It isn’t just the physical size of the body that declares the ability but more so the size of the heart deep within. Much is stated about the capability of this year’s draft picks but let’s rest easy knowing Parcells once again has shown his talent to judge that fire burning within. Countless questions will be asked though I have but one. To each new Dallas Cowboy: How big is your heart?


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Parcells Guys Editorial

Hey Texas, Are you ready for some Bill Parcells Defense?

Let me start this up with a little background on myself. I am from NY, lived here my whole life since birth and I have been a football fan since I was about 8 years old. My father was a huge football fan, in particular the Giants. So I know Coach Parcells for many years now. I was 11 when he became the head coach of the Giants and I have always followed his career in coaching. NO, I was never a Giants fan and the Cowboys Blue Star has always guided my football life. Go Cowboys!

When Coach Parcells took over the Giants he was lucky because Lawrence Taylor was already in place on that team. Well now the new “LT” is going to be a part of Coach Parcells team in Dallas. DeMarcus Ware is the new “LT” and if I am wrong so what, a boy can dream can’t he?

When Coach Parcells came to Dallas in 2003 Mike Zimmer’s 4-3 defense had been doing ok. Coach Parcells really didn’t have the personnel on the team to run his preferred 3-4 so he wasn’t in a hurry to make a change anyway. Now let’s jump to 2004. Somebody tell me what the heck happened to the defense that was doing ok. The Cowboys 2004 defense never seemed to even resemble the 2003 defense at any point in any game. That scenario did not rest easy with Coach Parcells this off-season and we all saw some sort of change coming. Was it time to scrap the old 4-3 defense and crossover to the Parcells style 3-4 defense?

You bet your *** it was and this draft sure the heck put it in bold print if you had any doubts. The Cowboys will run the 3-4 pressure defense in 2005. I said it and I will bet the farm if need be people. Coach Parcells made one point in a post draft interview, “I told the defensive coaches to learn the 3-4 this off-season”. No one learns a new defensive scheme because there is a chance the Cowboys may use it in 2005. I have faith Coach Zimmer can do a great job running the 3-4 defense. He is a football coach and has been around football his entire life. Coach Parcells would have just let Zimmer go if he didn’t have faith in him learning the 3-4 and running it successfully in Dallas.

Let’s get to these two first rounders who are going to be competing for the Super Bowl MVP trophy next February. The #11 pick, DeMarcus Ware, is the new LT as we have already learned. I am guessing double digit sacks for this rookie and I guarantee no more 12 second pass plays for Donovan “I didn’t have enough soup from my mama before the Super Bowl” McNabb. The #20 pick , DE Marcus Spears, is a rock solid player coming from an LSU program that two years ago won the national title. Marcus Spears was a big reason that team won the national championship. He will come in to the Cowboys and start immediately at defensive end opposite Greg Ellis. He has size, speed and the smarts to go along with being a high character guy. He’s already a Parcells Guy and he hasn’t even been fitted for a helmet yet! Getting both of these guys just made the NFC East a two team race and I know the Eagles players and coaches are thinking the same thing.

It wasn’t enough that Coach Parcells got the top two defensive linemen in the draft, but then the Cowboys go and snag one of the best LB’s in the second round with Tennessee’s Kevin Burnett. This kid will be a starter on defense before the 2005 season ends. If I am Al Singleton I am looking to start playing the best football of my career if I plan on staying employed in Texas. Burnett is a leader first and fore most, he was the defensive team captain since his Junior season at Tennessee. He is a big LB and that’s what Coach Parcells wants for his new 3-4 defense. Solid, solid, solid draft pick and will be a Parcells Guy when his career is all said and done.

I loved it when Julius Jones was on the field last year as the Cowboys running back. I hated it when anyone else was on the field as the Cowboys running back. That should change in 2005. The first of the two fourth round draft picks is RB Marion Barber III from Minnesota. How did this guy fall so far in the draft? He was a productive back his entire college career and comes from a football background as his dad played for the Jets back in the 80’s. Here’s another player who has football in his blood, and we all know Coach Parcells loves guys who have been around football their whole lives. Barber will come off the bench to spell Julius and I know at some point next season I will be yelling “Go Barber, Go”.

Trade, we have a trade. The Cowboys traded with none other than the hated Eagles to move up and grab DE Chris Canty in the fourth round. This guy has a few injuries to get over before he gets on the field, but when that is all taken care of this guy is going to be awesome. He blew out his knee last fall, but it’s on the mend so that should be ok in time. Now this other injury may be more of a concern. Canty was hit in the face with a bottle as an innocent bystander and suffered a detached retina, ouch! He stated in his post draft conference that he isn’t concerned and that the injury will be monitored and should fully recover from the injury. I sure hope so, this guy could be the steal of the draft with his size and athleticism at 6’7, 290lbs.

There are two positions on this team where there is no sure fire starter in place, Free Safety and Right Tackle. We drafted two guys in the sixth round we hope can come in and give us their best shot to try and fill those positions. Safety Justin Beriault comes from Ball State as a candidate for the open Free Safety spot. He wasn’t spectacular in college but Coach Parcells must have seen something in him. Beriault said when Coach Parcells spoke to him he told him there was an empty spot at Safety and asked him if he wanted to come down and try to take it. Of course the kid said he would, wouldn’t you? That pesky Right Tackle position was supposed to be solved in last years draft with Jacob Rogers, no such luck. Rob Petitti was considered a good lineman his entire college career at Pitt, but as is often the case with late round draft picks he has a red flag on his record. Petitti has had problems with his weight ballooning out of control at times and will need to get down to a playing weight determined by Coach Parcells. If this kid can control his weight the Right Tackle spot could be his for years to come.

Seventh round pick, DT Jay Ratliff from Auburn, must have been doing something right because the defense he played on last season was awesome. I don’t know if he can garner much playing time as there is a log jam all of a sudden on the defensive line, but Coach Parcells will give him every opportunity to go into training camp and shock the world. I’m rooting for you rookie!

Grade for this draft: Super Duper! Coach Parcells is getting guys who remind him of players that helped him win two Super Bowls with the Giants. I can go with that. Let’s just let Coach Parcells do his thing on defense. He tried to cook up a Super Bowl team with someone else’s ingredients and we got to eat our burnt defense week after week in 2004. So now we can sit back in 2005 and watch him cook up one of his favorite 3-4 dishes in 2005 and hopefully we are chewing on a Super Bowl XL victory next February. I know one thing, I’m starving for a dominant defense and we have one the best cooks in the world with Coach Parcells in the kitchen!


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Ware’s the Love?
by Brian Aust

Bill knew the stakes. He knew that everyone expected the Cowboys to use their position in this draft to pick up impact players. Lucky for Bill, when the draft dominoes cascaded to the Cowboys, the nameplate for every front-seven defender was left untouched.

After months of waxing it microscopic on the catalog of NFL prospects, taking special care to evaluate those that could possibly be taken with their two first-round picks, Bill couldn’t ask for an easier choice – just take the top guy.

When the NFL Commissioner introduced Demarcus Ware as the newest Cowboy, a smile invaded my face. Despite the defensive effort of an admittedly confused brain, the smile simply took over.

I enjoyed that moment for two reasons.

First, because I trust Bill. Even though I have only witnessed Ware play twice, despite his apparent lack of size and taking into consideration he came from a small school, I know the Cowboys brought in a special player. Bill had his choice and he picked Ware. That says something.

Secondly, I knew that with Shawne Merriman and Derrick Johnson left on the board at the time the Cowboys picked, Bill’s decision would bring unrest in Cowboys camps throughout the country. No one enjoys a good dust-up more than yours truly.

Given Bill’s legacy, I had a hard time believing that I would be put in a position to defend Bill’s choice. Just the same, I began blinking over ink just in case some devout Merriman-follower tried to tell me how Bill mortgaged Dallas’ future.

I had already taken in what the “experts” had to say about Ware. I needed fresh meat for the doubting jackals. I turned to them most credible source of information regarding football players – the opinions of people that know the player the best – those that coached him, those that game-planned for him, and the player himself.

“Demarcus Ware is a nobody” the stubborn Merriman-fan will likely contend. “There’s a reason he played at Troy,” Mr. Stuck-on-DJ would follow up with, showing his complete disregard for the history the Cowboys have with small school players.

Middle Tennessee State head coach Andy McCollum, in an article by the Troy Messenger’s Andy Brown, disagrees. “Defensively, this is probably the best team we have seen all year - and that includes Florida,” said McCollum said of Troy.

“Their defensive end, Demarcus Ware, is as good as there is in the country," McCollum added. "He will make a lot of money playing this game. He's a difference maker and he's a great person. He has a great attitude and great character. He plays the game the way it's supposed to be played."

Troy State head coach Larry Blakeney adds his two cents to the argument through Andy Brown and the Troy Messenger as well. “The success Demarcus has had here over his four years doesn't surprise me at all,” Blakeney said. “It doesn't surprise me because I know what kind of person Demarcus Ware is. I know how hard he works to be the player that he is.”

Blakeney adds, “There's no telling what Demarcus could do if I could get the officials to call some holding penalties and stop offensive linemen from holding him on every single play. I mean every single play! He might lead the world in sacks if I could stop that from happening.”

“Demarcus is going to be held,” Blakeney continued. “He's going to get a chip block from the running back on his way out of the backfield and he's going to get double teamed on every play, but he is still going to make plays.”

Blakeney is right about making plays. Ware was among the nation’s leaders in sacks and tackles for loss, which becomes more impressive when you figure Troy State, in its I-A infancy, traded punches with the likes of LSU, South Carolina, Missouri and Marshall in 2004.

Nearly every story on the Trojans mentions Ware in some capacity – either by detailing how extensive the “Stop Demarcus” game plan was, or by listing his game-changing highlights. Ware has spent years reading coverage of a team where he’s the only thing worth writing about, yet he hasn’t strayed from humility.

When Andy Brown of the Troy Messenger asked Ware where the credit for his success should go, Demarcus wasn’t interested in self-serving. “Really, I just have to give it all up to my teammates,” Ware said. “The other guys on the defensive line do a great job of taking on blocks and freeing me up to make plays. Without them doing what they do, I wouldn't be able to have the success I have had. I just have to thank them.”

Pardon the pun, but “Ware’s the love” Mr. Merriman-fan and Mr. Stuck-on DJ? Demarcus Ware is a catalytic, up-field playmaker that earns the respect of everyone he meets – on and off the field. He’s humble. He’s coachable. He has everything you could wish for in a Cowboy.

Most importantly, he has something that Merriman and DJ do not – the endorsement of one of the greatest coaches in history.


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Parcells: Day 2 Draft Magic

Without a doubt, the Cowboys are on a misson, they have proven it with free agency, and this philosophy continued on Sat on Day 1 of the 2005 Draft. Without a 3rd rounder we missed out on some good quality prospects.

Another issue at hand is the free safety situation. Will it be addressed in the draft? It was hoped we would pick up Pool or Bullocks, but they were quickly gobbled up before we could blink, we're not even sure FS was going to be targeted with that 2nd rounder, but if we intend to hit on a FS, it should be early on Day 2, as in the 4th round.

Who else could we be looking at drafting on day2?
Here are some positional players of intereset still available:

Cowboys Interested**

Sean Considine FS 6'0'' 205 Iowa**
Gerald Sensabaugh FS 6-2 210 North Carolina
Donte Nicholson SS 6'2'' 210 Oklahoma
James Butler FS 6'3'' 210 Georgia Tech
Vince Fuller FS 6'0'' 185 Virginia Tech**
Ernest Shazor SS 6'4'' 225 Michigan
Brandon Browner CB 6'4'' 205 Oregon State

Offensive Tackle:
Wesley Britt OT 6'7'' 315 Alabama

David Stewart OT 6'6'' 320 Mississippi State
Anthony Alabi OT 6'6'' 325 TCU
Michael Munoz OT 6'5'' 315 Tennessee

Running Back:
Ciatrick Fason RB 5'11'' 215 Florida

T.A. McLendon RB 5'11'' 215 NC State
Marion Barber RB 5'11'' 215 Minnesota
Darren Sproles RB 5'7'' 185 Kansas State
Cedric Houston RB 6'0'' 220 Tennessee
Alvin Pearman RB 5'10'' 205 Virginia**
Lionel Gates RB 6'0'' 225 Louisville

Wide Receiver:
Fred Gibson WR 6'4'' 200 Georgia

J.R. Russell WR 6'3'' 205 Louisville**
Jerome Mathis WR 5'10'' 180 Hampton**
Craig Bragg WR 6'2'' 190 UCLA
Steve Savoy WR 5'11'' 195 Utah
Airese Currie WR 5'11'' 185 Clemson**
Reggie Harrell WR 6'3'' 215 Texas Christian**

Defensive Tackle:
C. J. Mosley DT 6'3'' 305 Missouri**
Anttaj Hawthorne DT 6'3'' 295 Wisconsin
Lynn McGruder DT 6'3'' 300 Oklahoma
Anthony Bryant DT 6'3'' 335 Alabama
Lorenzo Alexander DT 6'3'' 305 California

Defensive End:
Chris Canty DE 6'7'' 283 Virginia

Bill Swancutt DE 6'4'' 260 Oregon State**
George Gause DE 6'5'' 270 South Carolina
Trent Cole DE/OLB 6'4'' 250 Cincinnati**
Jonathan Goddard DE/OLB 6'0'' 245 Marshall

Elton Brown G 6'6'' 335 Virginia
Chris Kemoeatu G 6'4'' 335 Utah**
Pete McMahon OT/G 6'6'' 335 Iowa
Wes Sims OT/G 6'5'' 310 Oklahoma

Lance Mitchell ILB 6'2'' 240 Oklahoma

Robert McCune ILB 6'1'' 240 Louisville**
Derek Curry OLB 6'3'' 235 Notre Dame
Derek Wake OLB 6'3'' 245 Penn State
Mike Goolsby ILB 6'3'' 245 Notre Dame


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Parcells Guys Editorial

Who was the best draft pick in Dallas Cowboy’s history?

The criteria are pretty simple here. I based the decision on which player I thought had the most impact on the Cowboys relative to where he was chosen in the draft. I looked over every draft in the history of the Cowboys and the answer to this question was pretty simple after my research was done.

Emmitt Smith was by far the best draft pick in Dallas Cowboys history. I guess the percentage is pretty high that most would say he is the best Dallas Cowboy player ever, but that’s what also makes him the best draft pick ever. There were others who were awesome draft day selections. There were others who were definitely worthy of making the final list. I just could not find anyone who did what Emmitt Smith did coming from where he was selected in the draft. I don’t really think anyone would even consider challenging me on this either.

Here are the top five draft picks I came up with before deciding that Emmitt was the winner by a large margin, they are listed in no particular order.

Bob Lilly – 13th player selected in the 1st round, 1961. How about the first official draft pick in the team’s history becoming one the best defensive lineman in NFL history. Not bad for a team pretty new in the art of drafting, we can thank Coach Landry for this pick. Now is he a better pick than Emmitt? No, because Lilly wasn’t the best defensive lineman of all time and the team only won 1 Super Bowl while he was a Cowboy.

Roger Staubach – 129th player selected in the 10th round, 1964. Rodger Dodger was such a great pick because there a chance he would never even play for the Cowboys. Staubuch attended the Naval Academy and after graduating he was committed to four years of service for the Navy. He became the starting QB in 1971 and led the Cowboys to four Super Bowls in the 70’s, while winning the big game in 1971 and 1977. Now is he a better pick than Emmitt? No, because while he was maybe the greatest Cowboy’s QB of all time (calm down Aikman fans) and he was a 10th round selection he wasn’t the NFL’s greatest QB of all time, plus he only has two rings to Emmitt’s three. Add in the fact that Emmitt has no SB losses, while Roger has two gives Emmitt the edge in my book.

Chad Hennings – 290th player selected in the 11th round, 1988. Hennings was another Military man, he attended The Air Force Academy, who was drafted late because of his military commitment. He was voted as the top Defensive Lineman in 1987 by winning the Outland Trophy Award. Henning would have been a first rounder had he not been committed to the fulfilling his military obligation. Now I know he wasn’t a Hall of Famer, but he makes the list because he was a member of three Super Bowl teams after being selected in the 11th round. Was he a better draft pick than Emmitt? No, I don’t care if he was taken in the 110th round he cannot compare to Emmitt as far as what he meant to the Cowboy’s Super Bowl teams.

Herschel Walker – 114th player selected in the 5th round, 1985. He was drafted while he was playing in the USFL. Again this was a similar situation to Staubach and Hennings in that there was a chance this guy may never play for the Cowboys. Luckily the USFL folded and the Cowboys owned the rights to sign him to a contract. Now while he may have had some success while playing in his short career for the Cowboys, the real reason he gets a vote from me is because of the block buster trade with the Vikings in 1989. If the Cowboys didn’t have him to trade they may never have even won one Super Bowl never mind winning three in four years. Now taking into consideration all the draft picks the Cowboys received back in that trade, one of which was used to select Emmitt Smith, and the few good years he had for the Cowboys ask the question. Was he a better draft pick than Emmitt Smith? No, because even though the Cowboys were able to get Emmitt and a host of other players with all those draft picks someone still had to make the choice to take Emmitt Smith with one those picks. So I guess to be fair I have to at least give the Herschel Walker draft pick the number two spot behind Emmitt Smith because in a round about way Herschel did bring us the greatest running back of all time.

Emmith Smith – 17th player selected in the 1st round, 1990. The NFL’s All-Time leading rusher! Three Super Bowl trophies in his possession, one Super Bowl MVP trophy, 1993 NFL MVP, Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1990, 4 NFL Rushing Titles, 11 straight 1000 yard seasons, NFL’s All-Time Rushing TD leader, 7 Pro Bowls, 6 time NFL All-Pro and here’s my favorite one – NFL All-Time rushing attempts leader.

Wow. How the heck did 16 teams pass on this guy in 1990? Even if you had the best running back in the league in 1989 you should have taken Smith. Some of you may be saying well he was a great pick, but he was a first rounder and he should have been this great. Sorry to burst your bubble, but let’s take a look at some guys drafted within the top ten picks in the year of their draft that should have been great running backs. Bo Jackson was the # 1 overall pick in 1986, Alonzo Highsmith was the # 3 overall pick in 1987, Tim Worley was the # 7 overall pick in 1989, Blair Thomas was the # 2 overall pick in 1990, Garrison Hearst was the # 3 overall pick in 1993, Ki-Jana Carter was the # 1 overall pick in 1995. That's six guys who were drafted around the same time as Emmitt who never even came close to accomplishing the things Emmitt accomplished.

No one could have said back in 1990 that Emmitt would wind up becoming the NFL’s All-time leading rusher while leading the Cowboys to three Super Bowls, but after watching him for all these years I can say that he was definitely the greatest draft pick in Dallas Cowboy’s history.


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Final Part - Onward to NFL Draft 2005: Day 1 Scenarios and Other Positional Needs

So Draft Day is upon us, its clear the Cowboys top three priorities in this draft should be DE, LB, and Safety. These three picks need to be sure shot starters, the talent level for these three guys needs to be a virtual sure thing if we plan on fill the voids on defense, anything less will be detrimental to the team. Even if we trade down picks and pick up some more 3rds or another 2nd at best, we'll take a stab at what the first three picks could be.

3 Picks to Dominance
1. Shawne Merriman 2. Marcus Spears 3. Pool/Bullocks
1. Derrick Johnson 2. Justin Tuck 3. Pool/Bullocks
1. DeMarcus Ware 2. Marcus Spears 3. Pool/Bullocks
1. Shawne Merriman 2. Darryl Blackstock 3. Pool/Bullocks
*1. Marcus Spears 2. DeMarcus Ware 3. Blackstock/Burnett

Spears Factor
Why the interest in Marcus Spears, he's not a speed pass rusher, isn't that what we need? Well, maybe Spears in not a pure speed rusher, but Spears can get to the QB, he's big and strong, his technique is well rounded enough to cause havoc. The reason you may see Spears drafted is because he is really the only DE that has the size and skills to play in either a 4-3 and 3-4 with success in BOTH alignments. If you want a good front in a 3-4 you want size and power, Spears fills these requirements. In the 4-3, he's your rusher, and your run stuffer at the sametime. Also, don't be surprised if Spears is the Cowboys target with either the 1st or 2nd first rounder. If you look at our last Scenario* you'll see Spears go first, then Ware, then Blackstock or Burnett, this screams 3-4 all the way home, and man, would that be brutal - you want 3-4, this scenario will get you there, throw in the other LBs we have and the LB core is deep. Watch the Spears pick.

Other Positional Needs
Predicting the draft is almost impossible to predict, so while we think it could be defense all the way with our 1st three picks don't be shocked at all if we take a shot at a WR or OT. Also, somewhere in this draft we need a solid backup RB, and even another DT would be good for depth purposes and more. Here are some other prospects the Cowboys may be looking at:

Wide Receivers
• Mike Williams - USC - 6'4'' 230 4.58/40 (Early 1st, unlikely pick, but possible if he falls)
• Troy Williamson - S.Carolina - 6'1'' 205 4.32/40 (possible pick mid 1st+)
• Roddy White - UAB - 6'1'' 204 4.45/40 (late 1st early 2nd rounder)
• Terrence Murphy - Texas A&M - 6'1'' 202 4.39/40 (2nd rounder)
• Brandon Jones - Oklahoma - 6'1'' - 208 4.45/40 (3rd-4th rounder)
• Craig Bragg - UCLA - 6'1'' 200 - 4.50/40 (4th rounder)
• J.R. Russell - Louisville - 6'3'' 206 4.56/40 (4th rounder)

Offensive Tackles
• Alex Barron - FSU - 6'7'' 320 4.83/40 (early 1st rounder)
• Khalif Barnes - Washington - 6'6'' 305 4.92/40 (mid 1st rounder)
• Jammal Brown - Oklahoma - 6'6'' 316 5.03/40 ( mid 1st rounder+)
• Adam Terry - Syracuse - 6'6'' 330 5.37/40 (2nd rounder)
• Michael Munoz - Tennessee - 6'5'' 305 5.30/40 (3rd rounder)
• David Stewart - Ole Miss - 6'6'' 325 318 5.25/40 (4th rounder)
• Adam Synder - Oregon - 6'5'' 316 5.04/40 (4th-5th rounder)

Running Backs
• Ciatrick Fason - Florida - 6'1'' 209 4.57/40 (2nd rounder)
• J.J. Arrington - California - 5'9'' 214 4.40/40 (2nd-3rd rounder)
• Ryan Moats - Louisana Tech - 5'10'' 210 4.46/40 (3rd rounder)
• Eric Shelton - Louisville - 6'2'' 245 4.53/40 (3rd rounder)
• Cedric Houston - Tennessee - 5'10'' 223 4.60/40 (4th rounder)
• Darren Sproles - Kansas St. - 5'7'' 187 4.47/40 (5th rounder)
• Maurice Clarett - Ohio St. - 5'11'' 236 4.67/40 (5th rounder)
• Alvin Pearman - Virginia - 5'9'' 205 4.54/40 (6th rounder)

Defensive Tackles
• Travis Johnson - FSU - 6'4'' 296 4.90/40 (mid 1st rounder+)
• Shaun Cody - USC - 6'4'' 292 5.03/40 (late 1st rounder)
• Jonathan Babineaux - Iowa - 6'2'' 286 4.87/40 (3rd rounder)
• C.J. Mosley - Missouri - 6'2'' 312 5.09/40 (3rd rounder)
• Atiyyah Ellison - Missouri - 6'4'' 305 4.95/40 (4th rounder)


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Part III - Onward to NFL Draft 2005: Safeties

We've examined what appear to be the Cowboys top two immediate needs with DE and LB. When talking about holes in the defense, you must consider the gapping hole vacated by future hall of famer Darren Woodson. Right now, we know Roy Williams will occupy the SS safety spot, so what the Cowboys will be looking for is a coverage Free Safety. This draft class is not deep with top tier safeties, so if the Cowboys want to get someone who can step on the field and start on opening day, then safety should be looked at on Day 1, most likely in the 2-3rd round.

We'll take a look at some players that will fit the mold of what we're looking for, in addition, we'll examine a few CBs who could be drafted to move over to FS.

Brodney Pool - Oklahoma - 6'1'' 202lbs. 4.54/40
Pool could be the perfect fit for free safety. Pool has been consistent at OU, part of a defense that has dominated while he was there. Good burst speed, ball hawk playmaking abilities, and game experience with a good defensive unit will make Pool a targeted player come draft day.

Draft thought: Has the physical tools and game experience to step on the field and start immediately fo the Cowboys. (drafted late 1st/early 2nd)

Josh Bullocks - Nebraska - 6'0'' 201lbs. 4.55/40
Bullocks has pretty good cover skills for the TE and slant slot WR, has the quickness to play in coverage and make plays in the middle of the field.Cowboys attended the Huskers ProDay and Bullocks could be the guy drafted to fill the free safety void.

Draft thought: More of a coverage guy and not a big hitter, he will blanket players and go for the playmaking INTs. (drafted mid 2nd round+)

Sean Considine - Iowa - 6'0'' 212lbs. 4.50/40
A natural player at free safety and well rounded for the spot. Considine is a guy that has excelled at coverage, and going for the ball, in addition, he will lay the wood on you when given the chance. His variety of skills for a free safety will interest the Cowboys on draft day

Draft thought: Tough player who has a lot of heart and excels at his position. Should do well in the right system (drafted 3rd round+)

Vincent Fuller - Virginia Tech - 6'1'' 190lbs 4.47/40
After Fuller, the free safety talent becomes a complete lottery and talent level drops off significantly. Fuller has good work ethic, consistent play and will make coverage plays, break up passes, and can make the hit when needed. Don't be surprised if the Cowboys wait until early day 2 to try someone at FS.

Draft thought: Fuller played in a pretty good defensive unit, and should do well in a Cowboys system if called up. (drafted 4th round+)

Other Notable Players to Watch:
• Corey Webster - LSU - 6'0'' 200lbs. 4.59/40 ( size, speed, coverage skills, and a hitter could make the move)
• Marlin Jackson - Michigan - 6'1'' 200lbs. 4.45/40 (great speed, physical player, could excell at move to FS)
• Jordan Beck - Cal Poly 6'2'' 233lbs. 4.45/40 (game experiance, speed, may be drafted for FS Day 2 pick)

Next: Other Priorities


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Part II - Onward to NFL Draft 2005: Linebackers

We've taken an indepth look at some impact defensive ends that the Cowboys could be targeting. In our latest installement we'll look at some linebacks the Cowboys may be looking at. We know Shawne Merriman and DeMarcus Ware are "tweener" types, so we won't rehash what they can bring to the table; however, keep them in consideration when talking about LBs.

Cowboys Priorities on Day 1 should address DE ,but LB is a close second. The two guys that bring the Cowboys most versatility are Merriman and Ware. The Cowboys will have the opportunity to pick up any of these other LBs if they are still available and a need when its time to draft. The Cowboys let Coakley go, so for the 4-3 there's a hole there, and Bradie James failed to get the job done last year when given the opportunity. LB could be addressed early. Lets take a look at some linebackers the Cowboys may be targeting.

• Derrick Johnson - Texas - 6'3'' 242lbs. 4.52/40

Its unclear how much interest if any the Cowboys may have in drafting DJ. There's a good chance he may not even be available at #11, but if he still available, the Cowboys should look into drafting the playmaking LB. From all the linebackers projected to go early, Johnson brings gamebreaking plays on defense, forced fumbles, strip aways and bone crushing hits. He's all over the field and will be an impact starter. Will excell in a 4-3, and will do well in a 3-4. He has the quickness to make that outside rush a success.

Draft thought: Johnson is a sureshot pick for our weaknesses at LB, can play in a 4-3 or 3-4, very athletic to be a great linebacker in any defensive scheme. (drafted #2-15 overall)

Darryl Blackstock - Virginia - 6'3'' 247lbs. 4.70/40
Blackstock is another solid linebacker the Cowboys will have a shot at late in 1st or 2nd round. Blackstock has great size and has been very consistent at Virginia, a tackling machine with 237 tackles and 27 sacks during his 3 years as a starter. If the Cowboys draft DE early, and they are targeting a pure linebacker, Blackstock could be the guy.

Draft thought: With a gapping holes in the LB core, Blackstock will bring an immediate boost and impact starter. He will produce and make plays. (drafted #25-early 2nd)

• Kevin Burnett Tennessee 6'3'' 239lbs. 4.58/40
Looking for someone who has speed and will make the tackles anywhere in the field? Burnett could be another top notch linebacker targeted with our 2nd first round pick. Burnett brings very solid play at his position and team leadership, in addition he'll bring a solid rush on the blitz. Burnett had 120 solo tackles last season, lots of production and production is something the Cowboys need from the linebacker position.

Draft thought: Solid play is what will bring Burnett onto the Cowboys radar come draft time. Production and consistency. (drafted #25-early 2nd)

• Robert McCune - Louisville - 6'1'' 240lbs. 4.42/40
The fastest LB coming out this year, a pure speedster and makes big hits all over the field, speed to penetrate the line and will wreak havoc and makes plays in the backfield. McCune is more of a MLB. Will do well in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme.

Draft thought: Speed to get to the backfield and quarterback make him a linebacker of interest. (drafted mid 2nd round+)

• Barrett Ruud - Nebraska - 6'2'' 250lbs. 4.65/40
Cowboys have shown interest in Ruud, by attending Huskers Proday. Ruud has a nonstop motor and explosive attitude that encompasses field leadership and more. Has all the makings of an impact player, and steal in this years draft. Ruud may be underrated and overlooked with all the hype of other big names, but Ruud has the game experience, intelligence, and physical tools to start on opening day.

Draft thought: More of an inside linebacker and sideline-to-sideline specialist, he doesn't let many running backs get past him, his game experience and game intelligence have him on the Cowboys board. (drafted mid 2nd+)

Other Notable Linebackers to Watch:
• Channing Crowder Florida 6'0" 252lbs. 4.71/40 (knee injuries, but has recovered, risky Day1 pick)
• Jonathan Goddard Marshall 6'0'' 238lbs 4.68/40 (listed as DE and sack artist, but will play LB in pros late day1+)
• Derek Curry - Notre Dame 6'1'' 236lbs. 4.83/40 (lots of game experience solid tackler Day 2 pick)

• Keelan Jackson - Texas A&M 6'1'' 230 lbs. 4.70/40 (solid tackler and special teams Day 2 pick)
• Trent Cole - Cinncinnati - 6'2'' 238lbs. 4.78/40 (played DE will excel as passh rushing OLB in 3-4, drawn the attention of Cowboys watch for this guy, early Day 2 pick)
• Jordan Beck - Cal Poly 6'2'' 233lbs. 4.45/40 (game experiance, speed, may be drafted for FS Day 2 pick)
• Robert Rodriguez - UTEP 6'0'' 237 lbs. 4.83/40 (special teams tackling specialist Day 2 pick)

Next: Safeties
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Wishing Upon A Star
by Howard Cox

The year is 1959 and aspiring NFL team owners Clint Murchison, Jr., and Bedford Wynne approach New York Giants Defensive Coordinator Tom Landry to become their Head Coach when they are awarded an expansion franchise by the NFL. The NFL came calling and awarded them a team during the annual meeting on January 28th, 1960. The “Star” was beginning to shine.

Early on the team struggled, with a first year record of 11 losses and 1 tie, finishing last in the Western Conference. The effort, to build a good team, continued until 1965 when the team finally finished with a .500 record of 7 wins and 7 losses. The NFL was about to awaken to a new challenger amongst already proven playoff teams. At the completion of the 1966 season the Dallas Cowboys, who had been moved to the NFL’s Eastern Division, were on top with a record of 10-3-1. Playing in the NFL Championship game they were defeated by the Green Bay Packers. A bad ending to a good year, but also a beginning to a run of 8 years in the playoffs and proof that Dallas’ “Star” was shining brightly on the NFL scene.

For an eleven-year span of 1975 to 1985 the team regularly played in the midst of other powerhouse teams. Then the team’s luster started to wear off and once again difficult times were faced. Fans were wondering when the “Landry Magic” was going to return and power to team to glory again, but that was not going to happen. Then the unthinkable happened in 1989. Jerry Jones purchased the team and immediately became enemy #1 when he fired Tom Landry as coach. Following this move he hired a long time friend Jimmy Johnson to coach his team. Great petulance began to simmer in Texas and around the nation from faithful Cowboys followers. By 1993 all was forgotten after the new duo had driven the team back to the elite of the NFL. Egos clashed and Jimmy Johnson walked away leaving a hole in the heart of Cowboys’ country. Success remained with the team for two short years after that but the “Star” was once again heading for a dimming performance. Jerry Jones is still the owner and made some questionable moves. Dallas faithful have called for his head just a few short years after hailing him during the team’s rise to glory.

Once again he has hired a great coach in Bill Parcells. In their first year working together the team sparked itself to a playoff appearance. This spawned great hope within fans figuring the team had once again began to rise. 2004 put a damper on the new rush of successful fillings tagging along with the team. Which way was the team actually going, one year removed from the playoffs, finishing third in the division? Everyone was noting holes and questions on how to fill them. Knowing his course Jerry Jones, along with Coach Parcells, went out to polish the fading “Star”. Free agents Anthony Henry, Drew Bledsoe, Marco Rivera, and Jason Ferguson were signed to fill some of those holes. With the NFL draft just a week away, and the sparkle beginning to grow, the War Room crowd look deeply into who they feel will aid the team further in the climb back to recognition of being “Playoff Caliber”. The wish is for those chosen to restore the “Star” on the Cowboys helmets to shine brightly for years to come.


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Onward to NFL Draft 2005: Defensive Ends

With less than a week to go, the Cowboys will finish up any last minute interviews with possible prospects and complete their draft board. You’ve seen all the mock drafts throughout the season, and now its time for the real draft to get here. This could be one of the most pivotal Cowboys Drafts in years and I expect the Cowboys to draft smart and with a chessmaster’s aptitude in order to get those impact starters on day 1 of the NFL draft. I’ll examine some team needs and priorities and some other draft thoughts.

So, at this point, the Cowboys have made moves in free agency with starters at DT with Jason Ferguson, RG with Marco Rivera, and CB with Anthony Henry. What’s left to fill?....lots.

Cowboys Priorities on Day 1 should address DE. This is a definitive consensus among the organization and fans all around. The Cowboys have desperately missed the speed pash rush of a Charles Haley type. This will be addressed early. Lets take a look at some defensive ends the Cowboys may be targeting.

Defensive Ends

Shawne Merriman – Maryland – 6’4’’ 272lbs 4.60/40

The Cowboys have shown interest in Merriman, he is athletic and is versatile, which is why Parcells & Co. may be looking at Merriman. Merriman can play in stance at DE or standing up OLB. His versatility puts him at the top of the list. Taking Merriman at 11 is a possibility, and depending what the Cowboys draft with #20 or #42, Merriman may be drafted to fill the OLB spot vacated by Coakley. Merriman would do well as OLB in a 4-3 and probably excel in a 3-4 as a pass rushing LB. Merriman is a big hitter, playing OLB would be a good addition, coupled with Roy Williams in the box, the big hit combo’s could spell doom for opposing offenses.

Draft thought: Merriman’s atheleticism and quickness make him one of the top defensive players this year, Merriman would excel as a 4-3 DE (drafted #2-15 overall)

DeMarcus Ware – Troy – 6’4’’ 260lbs 4.55/40

You want speed, Ware can get to the QB with quickness on a regular basis. Ware is another versatile player that specializes in OLB rush, but can also play at DE. Ware has good onfield experience playing since his freshman year, another desirable asset. Ware has been a focal point of discussions at Valley Ranch. His experience, speed & explosiveness are very enticing.

Draft thought: Although Ware is one of those “tweener” types, I think he would be drafted for OLB and a big weapon in a 3-4 formation, pure havoc creation. Cowboys could get their guy as a OLB and take DE with their second first rounder. (drafted #10-32 overall)

Marcus Spears – LSU – 6’4’’ 300 lbs 5.00/40

Spears is a big body that eats up space and can get to the QB. His versatility will get him drafted as a DE and DT. Spears is a prospect that the Cowboys spoke with at the Senior Bowl. Spears brings a consistent rush from the DE spot, and can make some plays in the backfield. Spears would do very well in a 4-3 or a 3-4. In the 3-4, you really want some big ends to surround a big NT. Taking Spears would accomplish this need. Hovering around 300 lbs he would be a DE in the 3-4, coupled with Jason Ferguson at NT, and Glover or Ellis at the other DE. This would be a solid 3-4 front, and a solid 4-3 front. You get your value from Spears with his size and bigtime game experience.

Draft thought: Get the big guy for DE spot and get your speed OLB, and we could be on our way to a 3-4 formation that could succeed. (drafted #9-20 overall)

Justin Tuck – Notre Dame – 6’5’’ 275lbs 4.72/40

Started out at LB, was moved to DE where he became ND’s alltime sack leader. Tuck brings speed, agility, stamina, and experience to the field on every play. His main goal is to be in the QBs face at all times, in an interview I conducted with Tuck he stated, “fun for me on the field is sacking QB's and hitting someone in the mouth.” Tuck will bring the outside speed rush since we had Haley. Adding Tuck with Ferguson, Glover, and Ellis will define a dominant front four for years to come. Could Tuck be our gem as Julius Jones was last year. Bring in another Fighting Irish player and we’re in business on both sides of the field. You can bet the Cowboys have been watching him and a reference from Julius Jones should do well.

Draft thought: Tuck will excel in the 4-3 as a pass rushing DE, a big hitter, and high work ethic make him a desirable pick for the Cowboys. (drafted 15-32 overall)

David Pollack – Georgia – 6’2’’ 275lbs. 4.75/40

You want speed, leadership, experience, and playmaking ability? Pollack may be your guy. Could he be a “Parcells Guy”? He fits the description. Pollack has been a focal point in the Georgia Bulldogs defense and has played since his freshman year. Pollack has bigtime game experience playing in big rival games, and has played at a high level. His playmaking ability and ability to change the tide on defense make him a big asset. Whether its getting in the QBs face, or busting plays in the backfield Pollack does it all, perhaps one of the better well rounded DEs coming out this year. Height may be his only knock for a DE, but then again, don’t tell that to Colts Dwight Freeney (6’1’’)

Draft thought: Pollack will do well in a 4-3, will play DE, and will play his heart out. Bigtime motor and wills himself to make plays happen. (drafted 15-32 overall)

Other Notable Defensive Ends to Watch:

• Dan Cody – Oklahoma – 6’5’’ 260lbs. 4.75/40

• Matt Roth – Iowa – 6’4’’ 270lbs. 4.80/40

• Bill Swancutt – Oregon St. – 6’4’’ 270lbs. 4.90/40

• George Gause – S.Carolina – 6’5’’ 275lbs. 4.75/40

Next: Linebackers


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ParcellsGuys Editorial

2005 NFL Schedule, Part 2: Win Division Road Games or Else

The second half of the Cowboys 2005 schedule has the team going on the road to face each of it’s divisional rivals. You can bet the farm that these games will determine whether the Cowboys make the playoffs this season.

Week 10: What a way to being the second half, on the road in Philly against the defending NFC East champs on Monday Night Football. This could catapult the team into NFC East favorites or drop the team to NFC East cellar dwellers. Having a running game working effectively in road games will get you a close game win. Whether the Cowboys can do that will determine the outcome of the game. The Eagles will be hyped up to play this game so the first quarter will determine the course of this match up. I hate to say the Cowboys will lose this one, but it will be an uphill battle from the kickoff.

Week 11: The Lions come to Dallas and by this time in the season we should know if Joey Harrington held off free agent pick up Jeff Garcia for the Lion's Quarterback position. Neither one of these guys scares anyone but Garcia offers up more of a challenge for the defense because of his ability to scramble. Detroit could either be really good by this game or really bad by this game, it all depends upon the QB play. Coach Parcells will have this team focused to beat the Lions, as it’s the game before Thanksgiving, Cowboys win by a field goal.

Week 12: Turkey Day and the always tough Broncos are in town for the holiday. Mike Shannahan is a master at the run game and usually has someone formidable in his backfield along side Quarterback Jake Plummer. As far as the defense, I am not sure the Broncos are as smart at building a formidable unit. The recent signings of all the Ex-Browns to play defense for the Broncos this season had to be considered strange as last season’s Browns Defense was horrible. Good for the Cowboys though as I can see it now, Julius Jones will have over 100 yards and at least 3 TD’s. Cowboys win by 21.

Week 13: Another division road game as the Cowboys go to New York to meet the Giants. This could be a cold weather game as it’s in the first week of December. Eli maybe a bit more comfortable with Giant newcomer Plaxico Burress by this one, so the Cowboy defense had better be playing shut down football this late in the season. Maybe the Giants will offer up an early Christmas gift and the Cowboys will get out of the Meadowlands with a win. This will be a toss up game and should be a nail biter.

Week 14: Chiefs are bringing one of the games best offenses to Texas Stadium. Chiefs Tight End Tony Gonzalez is a tough match up for any team, but the Cowboys have a great group of coverage linebackers with Dat Nguyen in the middle. The Chiefs defense is being rebuilt as we speak, but I think the Cowboy offense can hang in their long enough to make it a good game. Drew Bledsoe should have it easy in a Dallas win.

Week 15: Last division game on the schedule as Coach Parcells brings his troops into D.C. for a must win against the Redskins. This could be the most important game of the season and may possibly be for a division title. Seems the Cowboys have the Skins number the last few seasons and I hope it continues in this game. A very tough road game versus a team that could be fighting for a playoff spot as well, hoping for a Cowboys win but wouldn’t bet any money on it.

Week 16: The Panthers came on strong late last season after some early injuries decimated their roster. These guys bring it when the gun sounds and especially at home in Carolina. Last regular season road game for the Cowboys and I hope this isn’t a must win, the Cowboys have not played well in any games at Carolina to date. No real strength on either side of the ball for Carolina, they aren’t flashy but they win games. Carolina Quarterack Jake Delhomme wasn’t as spectacular last season after coming off the Super Bowl in 2003. He may have come back to earth and let’s hope he’s not putting up big numbers when the Cowboys arrive in town. Come up with a masterful game plan Coach Parcells and the Cowboys might win this one.

Week 17: Season finale against the Rams at home. High-powered offense goes with the Rams no matter who is on the team, but this is another team that struggled on defense last season and squeaked into the playoffs. I think the Rams will be worse on defense this season and won’t be a factor in the playoff race. I see the Cowboys winning this one easily whether it’s for the playoffs or not.

Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs! This team should be in the “tournament” come January and can go far if they play Coach Parcells football. I will hold up from predicting any Super Bowl appearances, but with a little good fortune you just never know.


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ParcellsGuys Editorial

2005 NFL Schedule, Part 1: Rough Beginning for the Cowboys

The NFL Schedule brings a kind of relief to football fans, sort of the same way a car repair bill brings relief to all of us when we at least know the extent of the damage. Let’s assess the damage this schedule can do to our hopes of a Super Bowl XXXX victory.

Week 1: Opening the season on the road is always tough. The Cowboys get the Chargers to open it up in 2005. A lot of people voted this Charger team the surprise team of the league last season. Quarterback Drew Brees showed he had a little fight in him after the Chargers got highly touted Quarterback Philip Rivers in the 2004 Draft. Brees put himself in the Pro Bowl and will be looking to continue his upswing this season. For the Cowboys to win this game though they must stop the real MVP of the Chargers, Running Back Ladamian Tomlinson, from grinding out first downs. This young gun is one of the best in the league and with players such as Tight End Antonio Gates also out there on offense the Cowboy’s defense must start the season strong in San Diego. Close game that could go either way.

Week 2: All you need to know is Coach Parcells vs. Coach Gibbs and people are going to watch this one. Throw it on Monday Night Football at Texas Stadium and the entire world will tune in for another classic NFC East battle. Skins are still a little rocky at the QB position I think with Patrick Ramsey starting from the get go. They swapped wide receivers with the Jets and now the Cowboys must defend against Santana Moss and his blazing speed, along with Running back Clinton Portis and his well, blazing speed. I hope this new 3-4 alignment that may be in place by then is ready for all that speed. The Redskins defensive had an outstanding year in 2004 as they wound up rated #1 in the NFL. I’m glad the Cowboys offense will be tested early and I hope to watch them flourish with a nice game from Running Back Julius Jones, he likes the prime time games as we saw last season. Cowboys should win this one.

Week 3: The Cowboys go on the road to San Francisco and this won’t be the weeks most sought after game on the Direct TV Ticket. No Ifs, Ands or Buts about it. If the Cowboys don’t beat this rebuilding team there could be a storm brewing early in Dallas for Coach Parcells and Mr. Jones. I would list the 49er’s best player here, but he hasn’t been drafted yet and no one knows whom they are even targeting with the NFL Draft less than two weeks away. Take that Joe Montana and that damn 1981 NFC Championship game. Cowboys should win in a rout over this terrible 49er team!

Week 4: Is it a new NFL rule that the Cowboys must play against Randy Moss once a season? This guy is in “Raider Nation” and that’s where the Cowboys head to in another road game. Playing in Oakland last year would have been much easier as the Raiders stunk it up most all of the 2004 season, but with some key free agents added and the trade for the “Mouth of the South” the Raiders should be better in 2005. If the Cowboy’s D can get some pressure on Raider Quarterback Kerry Collins and control the new starting Running Back LaMont Jordan the Cowboys can win. If not and the game turns into an offensive explosion I don’t see the Cowboys with enough big play fire power to win that type of contest. This game might be one of those Coach Parcells’ gems where he knows the best defense is Julius Jones carrying it over 30 times. I am not betting against Coach Parcells, Cowboys win by controlling the clock.

Week 5: I hate them, you hate them and I know most of the Cowboy players have to hate them. Especially with Mr. Big Mouth himself wearing the green and black. Eagles come into Texas Stadium for key division game that is a must win. It’s a must win because we don’t want the Eagles to win any games all year, LOL. This could be a big game for Cowboy Tight End Jason Witten. He is solid in the short passing game and could catch over 10 balls. Being so familiar with this team it comes down to a battle of the little things that decide these tough division games. Play smart and don’t make big mistakes on defense. Not much more to say about this game as we have seen it all before, the best team on this given Sunday will win the game.

Week 6: Bring on another division rival, Giants will be coming into Texas thinking about that last second win in the final week of the 2004 season. Look for the Cowboys to test the Giants defense in this one. If the 3-4 is in line by this time for the Cowboys it will be an advantage because Giant Quarterback Eli Manning is still only in his second season and won’t be putting up Peyton like numbers just yet. A new style defense should put some added pressure on the youngster’s shoulders. I would expect Coach Parcells to try and pressure him into some mistakes by taking chances on defense now that he has two solid corners with Newman and Henry. Game’s in Texas, Cowboys win this one at home in a blowout.

Week 7: I hope that luck we had in Seattle last season is again hanging out on this road trip to Qwest field. The Seahawks seem to put up big numbers on offense most weeks, but don’t ever seem to be consistent on defense. I don’t look for that to change anytime soon. They spent the off season resigning their offensive stars and losing key defensive guys in Defensive End Chike Okeafor and Cornerback Ken Lucas to free agency. This will be a high scoring game like last season and I expect the team that scores last will win. Remember the Seahawks are in the NFC now so this could somehow be a playoff tiebreaker for the winner. Toss up game.

Week 8: Cowboys end the first half of 2005 with a nice easy home game against a team they always beat, the dreadful Cardinals. Hold your horses people. This Cardinal team has upgraded over last season in some areas and Coach Dennis Green is no slouch. Even with that said I don’t see a winning Quarterback on that roster. Kurt Warner was signed and I would assume he’s the starter, but he isn’t the same Kurt Warner that led the Rams to a few Super Bowls. This will be a nice day for Wide Receiver Keyshawn Johnson and Quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Cardinals will always play tough with Green calling the shots but they should be beaten on the road by this Cowboy team.

Week 9: Bye week comes right at the midway point, like it should be. Thanks NFL Schedule makers and please do the same next season.

Check back tommorrow as I take a look into the second half of the Cowboy's 2005 Schedule!

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The "Okie" Pokey
By Brian Aust

While trying to dodge the post-SportsCenter, pre-slumber boredom that sneaks up on me most nights, I found my muse. Clare Danes, in mid battle with the female villain in Terminator 3, exclaimed, “Why don’t you just DIE, (expletive deleted)!”

There’s little pride in acknowledging my inspiration comes from a big budget “B” movie, but, Clare’s angst struck a chord. Every time I read speculation into the Cowboys moving to the 3-4 defense, I wish death upon that troublesome rumor.

Everyone calls the NFL a copy-cat league. So far this off-season, the Broncos, 49ers and Browns have lined up at the Xerox machine with the “Championship Blueprint” in hand. The Cowboys have been more timid in their approach, as if they think the machine might be out of toner.

Personnel issues underpin the organization’s reluctance. At the status-quo, the Cowboys don’t have the type of players that thrive in the “Okie” scheme. Even if the Cowboys use their top draft choices to flesh out a 3-4 roster, the team would likely hinge on proven players switching positions and inexperienced rookies making immediate contributions.

The addition of Jason Ferguson gave the Cowboys some flexibility along the line, but should the Cowboys want shift to the newest fad in defense, it would likely translate into position changes for some Cowboys staples.

LeRoi Glover, for instance, wouldn’t have a traditional tackle position to line up in. Since it’s unlikely that Cowboys would keep the perennial Pro Bowler on the bench, it’s possible he would move out to end. Physically, Glover can pass for a 3-4 end, but, asking a 10-year veteran to change style and technique does bring with it some risk.

Greg Ellis, at 6 feet 6 inches and 271 pounds, is too small to play end in the 3-4, and may be better suited to play outside linebacker. With a frame that mirrors New England’s Willie McGinest (6’5”, 270), Ellis would find himself with a host of new duties, including some responsibility covering the tight end.

No current Cowboy fits the mold of an “Okie” defensive end. Glover may be a band aid on one side, but, the ‘Boys would likely have to use one of their first round picks to fill the hole opposite him. LSU’s Marcus Spears and USC’s Shaun Cody are both considered to have ideal 3-4 size.

Most NFL gurus will acknowledge that the defensive line is the most crucial element to successful execution in a 3-4 alignment. After mixing and matching up front, the Cowboys would have do take a hard look at their line backing corps.

Inside linebackers in the 3-4 set have to be intelligent, instinctual and athletic. Dat Nguyen would likely handle his share of the load, even with is average coverage skills. Bradie James would be a candidate to play alongside Nguyen, considering he roamed the middle in college. James’ size would act as a good compliment to the undersized Nguyen, but his field awareness has been criticized. The Cowboys would be taking a risk moving James back inside after two years playing outside.

Assuming the Cowboys follow the 3-4 formula and conclude Ellis is too small to play end, he would fill the hole at strong side linebacker with Eric Ogbogu providing depth behind him. Al Singleton, physically on the small side, isn’t a good fit in the new defense. Kalen Thorton, a project player that has been mentioned in 3-4 talks around the Ranch, may get a chance to prove himself in the new configuration. Most likely, though, the Cowboys would address the weak side position through the draft. Both Shawne Merriman and DeMarcus Ware are ideally suited to playing linebacker in the 3-4.

I bring these adjustment issues to the forefront for two reasons. The first is to pander to my self-indulgent need to make cheap reference to an all-time wedding dance classic. So, without further ado: You bring a draft pick in, you move a Pro Bowler out, you do the “Okie” Pokey and you turn your team inside out, and that’s what it’s all about (give yourself bonus points if you actually broke into song just now).

My final reason is to point out that switching schemes is too much, too fast, with too much risk – especially for a defensive unit that finished in the middle of the pack last year.

By sticking with the 4-3, the Cowboys keep their options open to address other needs with their two first round picks. Other draft day scenarios, such as trading for the Saints’ Darren Howard and trading out of the first round, are also made possible by sticking with the status quo.

So, for the love of God and his favorite team, let these rumors die.

I enjoy your feedback regarding my writing. Post your comments here, or e-mail them to me at


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Preparing for the Draft
by Brian Aust

Draft day is about preparation.

Teams self-evaluate. They pour over film, attend workouts and assemble the “Big Board.” Then, teams go cloak and dagger, doing everything in their power to make sure their position stays masked.

The media gear up. They pour over film, attend workouts and assemble their own “Big Boards.” They push out terabytes of text that slowly confuse the sports world into thinking that the actual draft is but a ceremony.

I used to go the store. I used to buy one bottle of bubbly and one flask of whisky. I prayed. I turned my cell phone off. I prayed again. And then, with the future of my beloved Cowboys in balance, I turned the TV on.

Last year, the pieces fell into perfect Tetris formation. The missing block was waiting, and I was breaking out the bubbly. Then, just as the cork was about to be sent to the ceiling, the Cowboys traded back.

I didn’t understand. Mel Kiper Jr. said the ‘Boys would be salivating if Jackson dropped all the way to 22. I started to dread the post-draft grades. I became ill at the thought of messages piling up in my voicemail. I put down the champagne, and I snapped up the flask.

Then, as I started to lift the bottle to my lips, my memory went into playback mode. I saw Eagles fans cheering “Ricky! Ricky!” And then, I heard them booing as Donovan McNabb held up his jersey. Now there’s some perspective.

I decided then that it comes down to trust. Having faith erases all doubt. If I could convince myself to trust the Cowboys organization, then I need not worry about the media nor the bastards that feel a need to clown me via voicemail.

If Jerry Jones were left to his own devices, I wouldn’t find serenity. From 1997 to 2002 – the period I less-than-affectionately refer to as “The Jerry Jones Thinks He Can Coach” years - there isn’t much proof that the Cowboys phoned in a pick. The Cowboys will start the upcoming season with a measly four starters from the JJTHCC years – Adams, Ellis, Nguyen and Williams.

Then, in 2003, the heavens opened up and gave unto us…Bill. Bill's first four choices – Newman, Johnson, Witten and James – will all begin 2005 atop the depth chart. Even last year’s controversial move has Bill looking masterful. When Julius Jones came back from injury to carve up defenses, I made a vow – I will forever trust in Bill. Bill knows the draft.

This year, no matter what the Cowboys do on draft day, you won’t hear a grumble or groan from my direction. You will, however, hear the sound of a cork busting free.


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Parcells Guys Editorial - Will Bill and Jerry Do It Again?

Think back for a moment to the 2004 Draft. We all knew that the Cowboys were going to take a running back with their first round pick. We were all wrong as the Cowboys traded out of the first round and wound up selecting Julius Jones in the second round. Will the Cowboys do it again this year?

Personally I say no way would I trade out again. This team needs some impact players in the worst way and they need them now. I don't think trading down and accumulating any 3rd, 4th and 5th round picks does anything for the 2005 Cowboys.

There should be a different philosophy heading into this draft for Coach Parcells and Mr. Jones. Going into last year's draft the Cowboys were coming off a successful 2003 campaign where the team was headed in the right direction, or so it seemed. After a dismal 6-10 record last season I think both of these guys must feel like the time is now, and I mean right now, to get this team back on the winning track!

Now granted, after all was said and done the Julius Jones deal was considered genius by many. The Cowboys wound up with a quality running back and a first round selection this year, but I don't think the Cowboys can afford to take the chance that this will happen two years in a row. Not after so many unsuccessful drafts in recent years and the fact that other than Jones the 2004 draft wasn't so great.

Last season's draft might even be considered an incomplete if anyone was grading the performance of the players chosen. The second round pick, Right Tackle Jacob Rogers, never got in one game and is now projected to back up Flozell Adams at left tackle. The 3rd and 4th round picks, Offensive Guard Stephen Peterman and Cornerback Bruce Thornton, never had a chance as both were sent to Injured Reserve with season ending knee injuries. Peterson was lost in preseason and Thornton went down in early in the season. The fifth round pick, Tight End Sean Ryan was on and off the roster a number of times and was a non factor. Here's the best part, all three seventh rounders made the team. Wide Receiver Patrick Crayton, and Cornerback's Nate Jones and Jacques Reeves were on the field for a number of games. They played like seventh rounders, but at least they contributed for Coach Parcells.

The Cowboys should go into the draft on April 23rd thinking about getting two first rounders that can contribute in 2005 and beyond. I say concentrate on the Defensive End and Safety position with the two first round picks. Maybe a Wide Receiver if USC's Mike Williams makes it anywhere near the 11th pick, not likely though. Take the rest of the draft to look for a Right Tackle and maybe a Linebacker. A lot of people are saying go after a back up running back, I don't think that is going to happen. A good backup runner may already be on the roster, Eric Bickerstaff or ReShard Lee will do an adequate job behind Jones. Besides, this team has enough holes that at no point should they be looking for quality backups at any position.

Wouldn't it be something if the Cowboys shocked the world and traded up in the draft for a guy like Mike Williams or the Linebacker from Texas, Derrick Johnson. We all know how much Coach Parcells and Mr. Jones hate losing, so this may be the year us Cowboy fans are dropping our jaws come draft day.

See ya all next week, Go Cowboys!

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The Emmitt Smith Example
by Brian Aust

The 2005 NFL season will likely be remembered as the year the Patriots earned their dynasty label, firmly entrenching their place among the elite teams in history. Before the latest act in the New England plot was written, though, true greatness stood for a final curtain call.

With everyone consumed by one team's date with destiny, the NFL community begrudged Emmitt Smith a headline. Emmitt's retirement brought with it the customary commentary and analysis, and Emmitt's place in history was made a question.

"They" spent time assembling a rank order of the most dominating ball carriers throughout history - arguments often rooted in subjectivity and hinging on personal opinion. The top-fives and top-tens varied from expert to expert, and the foundation of Emmitt's legacy remained unclear.

With no answer for a begging question, the question itself becomes subject to analysis. What does it mean to be the Greatest? The Lazy One would lean on a dictionary, hoping to extract answers from a rigid definition. The Curious One, though, would seek out the meaning. Lucky for Mr. Curious, sports fans have a blue print for greatness - they have seen it before.

To be great obviously includes individual accomplishment. "They" don't call Wayne Gretzky "The Great One" because he came close to breaking point records. He OWNS those records. Gretzky's combined point totals make dwarves out of those closest to him. Not only did he surpass Gordie Howe's seemingly untouchable record, he set the bar high enough to leave little question to his legacy.

How does Emmitt stack up? He too broke what seemed like an untouchable record, Walter Payton's mark for career rushing yards. Along the way, Emmitt shattered the record for most touchdowns scored by a runningback, reaching the end zone 175 times - 50 more times than Jim Brown and Walter Payton, 75 more times than Barry Sanders.

When talking team sports, though, "they" don't always focus on the individual. Were that true, "they" would have to appoint Kareem-Abdul Jabbar the greatest to ever step onto the court. The sports world doesn't deny his ability to score, but Jabbar isn't considered the Greatest. That label is reserved for Michael Jordan. Individual records do not matterbecause Jordan's dominance lifted his team to six championships. The bigger the stage, the more crucial the situation, Jordan came through for his team. He was the lynch pin for a dynasty. For that, the sports nation will never deny Jordan his claim to the throne.

Emmitt Smith was part of his own dynasty. The Cowboys broke new ground in the NFL. Three titles in four years, until this year, was an accomplishment exclusive to the Cowboys of the early 90s. Of the players that get mentioned in the "Greatest Running Back Ever" debate, no running back enjoyed as much team success. Not Walter Payton. Not Jim Brown. Not O.J. Simpson. Not Earl Campbell.

Emmitt, rarely missing a game during that stretch, carried the Cowboys when they needed him most. Time after time, when Dallas needed a player to step up, Emmitt Smith answered the call - a fact illustrated by his Super Bowl MVP honor. When the Detroit Lions made their way into the playoffs, in comparison, Barry found himself out of the game plan. Despite his obvious game-changing ability, Sanders'career included less-than-great performances in playoff games low-lighted by a negative rushing performance in a wild card game against Green Bay.

It seems our model of greatness includes both individual and team success. No back makes a better unified example of this inductive model than Emmitt Smith. Those who refuse to place him alone at the top venture into more subjective arguments. It's at this point where "they" claim right to their opinion.

Oddly, being part of a Dynasty dims Emmitt's legacy in "their" eyes. His supporting cast, which included one of the greatest offensive lines in NFL History, is given credit for Smith's accomplishments. Yet, people don't hesitate to label Jerry Rice the best receiver in history. Didn't he have the benefit of Hall of Fame quarterbacks throughout the majority ofhis career? Is anyone allowed to say, "Had Cris Carter been on a better team, he would have owned allthe individual records." No. Jerry Rice is as much aproduct of his environment as Emmitt Smith, which is to say that their greatness is assumed regardless of those who surrounded them.

"They" also like to point out that Emmitt's biggest accomplishment - surpassing Walter Payton's all-time rushing mark - isn't noteworthy because Barry Sanders was within striking distance of the same record when he retired. Theoretically Sanders would have passed Walter had he wanted to continue and been able to stay healthy.

The important element of that argument revolves around Barry's desire. If you're talking about the Greatest, should the question of desire ever come up? Jim Brown left football in his prime to pursue other avenues, including a movie career. Emmitt not only had the ability to be the Greatest, he had the drive.

"They" also seem to hang up on style. Barry Sanders kept you on the edge of your seat, and often times left you breathless. So does Vince Carter. So does Michael Vick. So did Dominique Wilkins. Any "Great" ones in that bunch? Why not? Because Greatness has nothing to do with style.

Emmitt wasn't the greatest runner of all time. Emmitt wasn't the greatest blocking back ever. Emmitt wasn't the greatest backfield receiver of all time. Emmitt wasn't the greatest leader of all time. However, he did it all better than anyone else has ever done it all. That is what it means to be the Greatest.

It will likely be another five years before this debate surfaces again. When Emmitt Smith is inducted to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot, perhaps "they" will have taken the time to review his career and come to the realization that, given what Smith has accomplished and the manner in which he accomplished it, it is a lot harder to argue against him than it is to argue for him.

Thanks, Emmitt, for providing us all with another model of Greatness.


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This Years Steven Jackson Is...

This years Steven Jackson is Maryland's tweener DE/OLB Shawne Merriman. By now, if you're a Die Hard fan like most of us are, then you've "heard" of him and seen his name on countless mock drafts all over the net from the mass media to your nfl fan site mock drafts.

Now you've heard of him because his name is out there as a projected player that fans want. But who is this Shawne Merriman, and have YOU ever seen him play? Who annointed him the Cowboys must have?

Honestly, I never saw Merriman play, so I myself am going by what "other people" are saying about Merriman...and this is where mock drafting and draft hype crosses into the gray area. From most fans points of view we're going by alot of hear-say, truthfully, that's what mock drafting and draft hyping is for the most part, plain and simple and this does not go for the highly touted Merriman, this goes for any prospect being discussed anywhere... have you ever heard a fan say "I'm warming up to this guy" well, there it is, the average fan will say this if there are being influenced in some form or fashion, whether it be a well written scouting report or fellow peers jumping on that bandwagon. Don't get me wrong, from what I've read on countless scouting reports, he "sounds" like a great prospect. Question is, are the Cowboys even taking a serious look at drafting Merriman?

Comparetivly, this was the same scenario as last year with Steven Jackon, everyone wanted him, he was going to be gone by the Lions pick, no way he falls to us...and guess what? Jackson somehow did fall to us, and every Cowboys fan around the globe was in utter dismay when we traded completely out of our 1st round pick, with Jackson right there...

Point is this, as a fan you just never really know what your team is going to do with their picks as much as you would like them to. So, with NFL draft day 2005 just over two weeks away, remember this and don't be surprised at all if Merriman is there and we pass.

Would I take Merriman? Yes I definitely would, but that's just me going on what I've heard.