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5/30/2005

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Mini Camp Report

The Cowboys wrapped up their mini camp and we came away with lots of insight as to where the team is right now. Mini camps are held to bring the whole team together and to see what the rookies and veterans can bring for the full scale training camp which will kick off July 30th, its all serious business for Bill Parcells. For the fan though, the mini camps mark the beginning of football, its more of a sneak preview for the fan. There’s a very long-agonizing stretch from early Feb. to August when the pre-season arrives. So, these mini camps wet the palates of the most die hard of fans until then. In this report, we’ll take an early look at the Cowboys and see what we came away with from the end of the mini camps.

Have you ever had a car that kept breaking down and it became more costly to keep it than to invest in a new car? Well, that’s the feeling here with the Cowboys for the upcoming 2005 season. The defense has been revamped, and we will see quite a few new faces on defense. The mini camp marks the first time the Cowboys get to test drive this new defense and the ride looks to be all worth it. The Cowboys invested high draft picks that ALL went to defense. The Cowboys drafted Demarcus Ware, Marcus Spears, and Kevin Burnett with their first three picks.

Alongside the veterans such at DT Jason Ferguson the rookies, Ware and Spears practiced the 3-4 alignment on a full time basis. Its 3-4 fulltime, but that does not mean we will not see the 4-3 on occasion. On Sunday, the Cowboys were running a few 4-3 alignments. So we can surely expect the 3-4 as the primary, but the 4-3 will continue to be used, probably more as a situational package. Rookie Demarcus Ware was quoted as saying, "I know we're going to do 4-3 too, because I see a lot of it in our playbook."

What about the other rookie defensive players?

OLB Kevin Burnett was sidelined from onfield workouts as he continues to rehab his hip scoping, he will be ready by training camp. DE Chris Canty was also on the sideline as he continues to recover from his eye surgery. Jerry Jones states he expects Canty to be ready for field in 4-8 weeks or the early part of training camp and he expects Canty to be a contributor on defense for the regular season. This is truly great news and if Canty does indeed get in on the rotation at DE for the Cowboys we could have a major steal from this year’s draft. Projected a 1st rounder by several mock drafts before the injury he slipped to the 4th and the Cowboys jumped on the opportunity.

Justin Beriault and Jay Ratliff were also practicing during the minicamp. On one play, Beriault was burned by Dan Campbell, but he finished the play by catching the TE from behind and causing a fumble, Beriault still needs more work in coverage and still looked raw in coverage. Ratliff was drafted with the Cowboys last pick, but he showed he is ready to play, and wants do what it takes to contribute to the team. Ratliff showed immense quickness off the line and on special teams.

Ware and Spears looked very good in camp, making penetration to the QB on several occasions. On one play, Ware sped past Pro-Bowler Larry Allen to the QB, the crowds cheered, but Allen refocused and dominated the other defensive players. Allen looks to be in great shape and looks to be in Pro-Bowl form again.

In Shape or Out of Shape?

Speaking of the Offensive line, LT Flozell Adams showed up 10+ pounds lighter, and received high praises from Parcells, he looked leaner and quicker. In addition, Adams dominated OLBs like Thornton and Ware. Looks like Adams is planning to return to true Pro Bowl fashion as he did in 2003. Parcells continued his praise of Marcus Spears who also showed up to camp 13lbs lighter. During the Rookie Camp, Parcells had labled Spears as “Chubby Checker or Fats Domino” Spears took heed to Coach’s advisement of losing weight and Spears delivered. Spears now has a sub-300lb weight. Looking leaner and quicker, Spears did some pretty good things on the defensive side of the ball. Swamp Thang is ready to cause havoc.

RT Kurt Vollers is another player receiving some praises from Parcells. Vollers showed up focused and showed up bigger, as in muscle mass. Vollers did some good things on the Oline at RT when he replaced starter Torrin Tucker at the end of the 2004 season, and his dedication to his body and conditioning could help him take over at RT

Every year there’s that player that shows up overweight, so who was it this year? RT Torrin Tucker…talk about dancing with fire! Not only did Tucker not play well at all at RT last year, he was replaced with Vollers at the end of the season, BUT then he comes to camp overweight? Parcells noticed this and stated that not only was he overweight, he was substantially overweight, wow!. Parcells also stated Tucker had better show him a lot more right now, this is his third year. Parcells is huge into player assessments at the year 3 marker and Tucker is on the wrong path right now, I would even venture to say Tucker may not make this team unless he improves immensely.

QB depth not quite set

With Vinny gone, Parcells was not comfortable enough in Drew Henson or

Tony Romo to start. We all know Parcells brought in Drew Bledsoe in to take over as the starting quarterback and that is the plan for the 2005 season. So, Bledsoe will be #1, Henson #2, and Romo #3, right? Well, let’s hold the horses on the #2 spot. It looks like the camp battle to really watch for could reside between Drew Henson and Tony Romo. Henson has been working all off season throwing 5000+ passes and learning the playbook, but so has Tony Romo. Let’s remember Parcells had the option to send one of both of the young guns to NFLE, but he opted to keep them both here to work on their game; mechanics, conditioning, and the playbook. It sounds like it’s a race to close to call right now – a dead heat. Parcells has even indicated that Romo may have a slight edge in regards to knowing the system. This is a camp battle we will be watching very close. Either way, it is very good to hear the level of competition is there. Ideally, it’s good to have a solid #2 QB, but if you can have a solid #3 QB, then you’re in great shape.

The 3-Headed Beast

Now, we know what Julius Jones brings to the table – strength, heart, speed, production and more, BUT without Jones, the running attack was nonexistent in 2004. We had Eddie George, and perhaps he was not given enough carries, or perhaps he had lost a step, and Parcells did not want to play Reshard Lee…2004 was a complete mess. Now comes 2005, Parcells knows that a healthy running game is a must for any team, and a QBs best friend.

Are you comfortable with Julius Jones as your starting running back? Without a doubt yes, no questions there, but what if he gets injured, who would we have? Parcells knew this had to be addressed in the offseason, so he drafted Marion Barber III (MB3) in the 4th round a projected 2-3rd rounder type back. Barber brings some solid depth at RB. Through mini camp practice, Barber exhibited good hands and speed. During one of Parcells' press conferences he compared Barber to a former player, Leon Johnson. Saying he was the backup runner, 3rd down back, return man, a player with good receiving hands, and more. He sees Barber as that type of contributor player.

Anthony Thomas (A-Train) was recently picked up and this was a marvelous addition, signed for a one year deal, Parcells likes what he sees in Thomas during camp. Parcells described his role as the in between tackle runner, tough guy, short yardage - goal line

Leading the FS Pack

This has proven to be one of the most active offseasons in years – the Cowboys jumped out of the gate and signed impact free agents and with calculated precision beefed up the defense. One position that has a question mark looming over it is the free safety spot. The Cowboys brought in Corey Hall, but he was less than impressive, and there remains a chance the Cowboys could take a look at upcoming June cuts like Lance Schulters or Corey Chavous. For the time being it appears that FS will be filled from within the team. Throughout mini camp Keith Davis showed that he can make plays, he knows where the ball is at, knocked down a few passes and more. Right now, Davis is leading the pack for that open FS spot. Parcells likes what he sees out of Davis, but he’s torn on the issue – Davis is the team’s special teams star, and Parcells acknowledged that moving him from ST to FS will leave a void. Parcells stated, "I am torn because if he is starting, we are going to be losing a lot on special teams," Parcells also added that, "Davis does have a knack for the ball, the ball does come to the kid. You want those players on defense."

Other players competing for that FS spot are rookie Justin Beriault, Clint Finley, Lynn Scott, and Pete Hunter. Hunter is in the mix, and despite previous reports that he wanted to play CB or be traded, Hunter says he will do what is asked of him. Hunter has great potential at FS with his size and speed; in addition he has added some weight to his frame. We’ll see how this pans out.

Viewpoints

From a die hard fans point of view the Cowboys are set to make great strides. The Cowboys organization as a whole has made a true commitment to turn this team around. We’ve shored up some keys positions through free agency, drafted some quality character playmakers via the draft, and have brought on some great assistant coaches into the mix.

What does Coach Parcells think? Parcells said in closing that, "We're going to have more depth, more competition…but I don't know what we're going to have on the inside. I don't know what kind of chemistry we're going to have. I don't know what kind of mental toughness we're going to have. I don't know what we're going to do the first time we get hit in the mouth."

5/26/2005

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Parcells Guys Editorial

Cowboy players currently on the "Bubble".

The following guys should be worried about their jobs. They were once considered starters, but now they should be considering what other NFL teams could be interested in them for the 2005 season.

Let's start with Andre Gurode. This guy had the whole 2004 season to do something and prove he was a quality NFL Offensive lineman. Instead he continued to make stupid mistakes week in and week out. He had Coach Parcells on his back and that just seemed to make worse. Look for him to get one final chance; if he doesn't show something spectacular in the first week of training camp, he's a goner.

Al Singleton is a nice complementary NFL linebacker, that's the problem. Coach Parcells wants more of an attack defense this season. Singleton has never been a playmaker and isn't the guy you can depend on to get you a turnover in the fourth quarter. He would be a nice back up, but I don't think he will be happy in that role on this team. Coach Parcells will respect that and release him to find a home elsewhere.

Torrin Tucker just hasn't done anything to keep the Right Tackle job. Kurt Vollers replaced him in the last three games of the 2004 season. Many said Coach Parcells did this to see what he had in Vollers. Maybe, but I think it was as much about Coach Parcells already knowing what he had in Tucker and not liking it. Pencil in Vollers as the starter on opening day with Tucker playing in another city.

Darian Barnes was brought to the Cowboys as a special teams guy, not to be the starting Fullback. He beat out Lousaka Polite last season, but not this year. Lousaka Polite has shown that he can handle the job and should beat out Barnes this year. Last season the loss of Dan Campbell hurt the Cowboys running game. With Campbell back now Coach Parcells will be running the single back set about 80% of the time. This will allow Polite to be used for his power blocking when needed.

The beginning of last season must seem like a decade ago for Pete Hunter. He started last year as the "other" starting corner opposite Terence Newman. This year he is buried on the depth chart after missing most of last season to a torn knee ligament. Speculation that Coach Parcells had asked this kid to move over and try to take the Free Safety spot was discussed for a while. Hunter turned his back on the Cowboys after publicly stating that he is a cornerback and won't play Safety. Sorry Pete, but Anthony Henry has the job now. Plus we got Aaron Glenn for the nickelback spot. That will leave Hunter on the unemployment line at some point in the near future.

Let's get some comments on these thoughts people. What do you think?

5/17/2005

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Parcells Guys Editorial

Is Nate Newton stupid?

This used to be one the guys I looked up to when the Cowboys were winning Super Bowls in the 90’s. Now he’s the guy I wish was never even on the team in the 90’s. Why is he even allowed to speak to the media when he’s already proven that he’s a joke in the eyes of all the Cowboy’s fans?

It wasn’t bad enough that he got caught being a drug dealer, but now he comes out and tells everyone that wanted to be the “best dealer he could be”. Did he have his brain removed after he retired? He couldn’t have been that stupid during his playing days in the NFL could he?

I was just thinking the other day about the kid from the Vikings, Onterrio Smith, who got busted with the “Whizzinator”. I was thinking he must be the stupidest guy in the world. Then comes along a former Cowboy star to blow him out of the water. At least Smith was smart enough to think about using something to disguise his dirty urine. I think if Newton was in that same position he would have told the people administering the test “I just used some coke on the way over, I wanted to fail it at the highest level because I am very competitive in everything I do”.

Why did he opt to sell drugs for money? That was the exact question that came to my mind when he was arrested with 213lbs of marijuana in Louisiana. I knew Nate played for the Cowboys for a bunch of years and he wasn’t getting paid in monopoly money. I checked it out and found out he played 13 years in the NFL. He had to have some cash left from all paychecks right? Not so fast people. How was this guy an NFL player for the Dallas Cowboys? This was the question I asked myself when he was again arrested within six weeks of his first arrest. This time they busted him for having 175 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of his car. I started thinking to myself; maybe Jerry Jones was paying him in monopoly money all those years. He’s obviously too stupid to know the difference.

Let’s back up a second, 213 friggin pounds! Then 175 friggin pounds. That’s 38 pounds difference. That is the exact number of plays Newton must have had a concussion and never told anyone. Now I understand his stupidity.

Maybe his helmet was too tight. Maybe he had too many concussions during his career. Maybe he took steroids and his brain was affected. Who knows why this guy is this stupid, but to think that this was once a Pro Bowler NFL player who has three Super Bowl Rings is just a shame. He could have lived the rest of his life as Nate “The Kitchen” Newton, one of the greatest Cowboys of all time. Instead he will go down as Nate “The Idiot” Newton, one of the dumbest Cowboys of all time.

Shame on Nate Newton and shame on all the people around him. Didn’t anyone have some solid advice for this guy that first time they knew of his ridiculous actions. Come to think of it, maybe a whole bunch of people were telling him not to do it and he chose not to listen. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit. I mean this is a guy who got busted with 213 pounds of weed. Then got busted with 175 pounds of weed. Then after making it out of jail alive and putting this all behind him brings it all back by going on the radio to say he wanted to be the bestest drug dealer he could be.

Only one word can come to mind on this one, stupid.
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Offensive Time
By Howard Cox


Dallas’ defense is in the spot light right now and with good reason. Big money was dished out to sign Anthony Henry and Jason Ferguson. Coupled with that the team also signed veteran CB Aaron Glenn. Look no further than the draft to compel even the weakest of fair-weather fans to know in-depth knowledge about the Cowboys defensive onslaught this off-season. Forgotten is the signing/drafting of offensive players to help a weak offense improve itself this coming season as well.

Pushed to the back burner has been the signing of QB Drew Bledsoe and OG Mark Rivera. Also little talk has been heard about 4th round draft pick RB Marion Barber and 6th round pick OT Rob Petitti. The team also got a cheap backup at RB when they signed Anthony Thomas from the Chicago Bears. See they have also made attempts to bolster the offensive side of the ball this season too. Also much needed help will be returning from injury this season in WR Terry Glenn, TE Dan Campbell, OG Stephen Peterman and even WR Keyshawn Johnson.

Let’s wonder around the other side of the ball for the possible starters and approach to scoring more points, which also contributes to victories alongside a good defense. Here is what I see being the starting eleven when the team opens up on the road against the San Diego Chargers.

Quarterback: Drew Bledsoe – Last season he played for the Bills and led an offense that almost made it to the playoffs despite a very rough start. Nothing great out of last season other than maybe more touchdown passes than interceptions. He is a proven veteran, who knows he will start and knows Parcells’ offense already. A big plus over Vinnie being named the starter just before preseason began.

Running Back: Julius Jones – Came back from shoulder injury last season to revive and dead running game and give serious help to offensive production. He runs with authority and will put up good numbers for an entire season. Solid addition after a year of wondering whom the next running back would be.

Tight End: Dan Campbell and Jason Witten – I include both because Parcells’ style of offense uses more of a one back set. This gives two solid blockers up front for the running game and also two proven pass receivers to look for as well. Witten will continue to use size and ability to get open in the middle and Campbell just gives the team another option to do the same.

Wide Receiver: Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn – Glenn gives them speed that was missing last season. His ability to get deep will open up underneath routes. That is where Keyshawn comes in with size and strength to be a solid possession receiver to move the chains. This also allows the running game some room with linebackers watching the middle and also maybe a deep route or two with safeties eyeing the middle.

Center: Al Johnson – He came back from a rookie season injury to once again take the starting position away. He will keep that spot and ensure the middle of the line is solid in both run and pass blocking.


Guards: Marco Rivera (RG) and Larry Allen (LG) – Rivera will come back from back surgery and shore up a weakness from the last two seasons. His offer to pay back his signing bonus speaks volumes about his commitment and it will pay off big. Parcells has already made comments about the improvement of Allen this off-season by saying, “He is running things he has never run before.” The middle of the line is solid for opening holes and protecting Bledsoe.

Tackles: Flozell Adams (LT) and Kurt Vollers (RT) – Adams has lost weight and been mentioned by Parcells for that fact already before off-season workouts began. He is coming off a Pro Bowl season from 2003 and should return to that level this season. I go with Vollers here just because he ended the season as the starter at RT so he remains there until beaten out. Actually the position isn’t solid with anyone so it is just a hunch by me. Whoever gets the position will have Rivera beside him for help and Parcells riding him to keep up with the other four linemen.
The offense hasn’t received as much notoriety as the defense but changes have been made. We will see an improved offense this season also and it should change the outlook at a playoff run for the third year Parcells group. Stand by for the team to be offensive as well, which is good for this situation.

5/15/2005

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Cowboys Road to the 3-4!

We all know the Cowboys free agency and 2005 draft predicated what type of defense we were going to play in 2005 and the answer is the 3-4. Parcells stated that Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer has been working on the 3-4 ALL offseason, Parcells wants him to delve deep, really sink-in and soak up the makings of a 3-4. Zimmer has been holed up at Valley Ranch studying, analyzing, and configuring the 2005 defense. Zimmer comes from a football background, and has done some great things for the Cowboys defense, he's shelled out top level defenses year-in and year-out, with the exception of last year. Last year was plagued with injuries and inconsistent play on the defense, at times the defense could not stop anybody and at times they played like they did in 2004 when they had that #1 Overall rated defense.

Parcells is a defensive minded coach and was embarrassed with the defensive unit that was taking the field. Was it the absence of Darren Woodson? Sure some people say that Woodson's leadership was a key factor in the defensive meltdowns, and to some degree this is true, if you look at the games in the past, before the 2004 season, Woodson's absence impacted the defense. Last year the Cowboys tried to fill that void, but injury, uncertainty, and little confidence took its toll, along with a sputtering passing game the season seemed doomed.
Now came the offseason, change was coming in the form of the 3-4, the defensive scheme that has won Parcells countless playoff games, championship games, and the Super Bowl. Parcells went with the 4-3 for two seasons, and knew the Cowboys had to make a move to get the defense fixed. Parcells stated he needed to fix the defense. So far, he has done this with several key acquisitions in free agency. The Cowboys upgraded the cornerback spot with Anthony Henry, and added former NY Jets player NT Jason Ferguson. The signing of Ferguson was a very key pickup. The NT position is very key in a 3-4 alignment and the signing of Ferguson gave us an early indication that the 3-4 was coming.

Now came the NFL draft in April. Who would the Cowboys draft? Was is going the be Shawne Merriman, Mike Williams, Derrick Johnson? It appears the Cowboys had Troy States DE/OLB Demarcus Ware pegged all along. The Cowboys had studied him all season and gathered all the reports from their scouting dept, and the icing on the cake was Ware's performance at the Senior Bowl, he lined up against the best seniors and was virtually unblockable, this sealed the deal. The other defensive player the Cowboys managed to steal with the #20 pick was LSU's standout DE Marcus Spears.

Ok, so we drafted Demarcus Ware and Marcus Spears, we still could play a 4-3 as a base with these draft picks, then came our 2nd round pick...would it be a FS? We needed a FS, maybe even a WR or Tackle. No, the Cowboys opted to draft Tennessee's Team Captain OLB Kevin Burnett. Burnett was projected as a mid-late first rounder by some mock drafts and the Cowboys were able to snatch him up early in the 2nd round. At that #42 pick overall you could hear Cowboys fan's around the globe say "3-4 baby, we're going with the 3-4 all the way!" We now have the tools with the draft and free agency to make that alignment transistion to the 3-4.

So, will the 3-4 be the base defense for the Cowboys in 2005? Yes, the Cowboys will be using the 3-4 as the base, but we will see different schemes in changeup and special situations, we'll see some 4-3, and maybe a 4-6 in there on occasion.

Let's take an early look at who I have projected as the Cowboys starting 3-4 players:

DE: Marcus "Swamp Thang" Spears - the LSU standout rookie will start immediately and fills a void from our free agent bust from last year, Marcellus Wiley. Spears was a key draft pick because, he was really the only true DE that had the size to excel in the 3-4. Typically you want those front 3 to be bigger type players. Spears brings that to the table, he has the power to collapse the pocket, and can stuff the run.

NT: Jason Ferguson - Ferguson will anchor the 3-4 at NT and will do very well, Parcells knows what he brings to the table, after all he drafted him while he was at the Jets. The Pro Bowler brings bigtime game experience, power and leadership to the Dline. Ferguson specializes in run stuffing and draws double teams, he's a beast in the middle.

DE: Greg Ellis - at 271lbs. Ellis has less size than Ferguson and Spears who hover around 300lbs. Not to worry, Ellis has been an integral part of the Cowboys defense and his sack numbers continue to improve, he will do fine coming off the edge. He's athletic and has the technique to continue to make plays on the end.

OLB: Demarcus Ware - the speed, relentlessness, and playmaking abilities make him an instant impact player on defense. Ware was brought in to be in the QBs face all day. He has speed and can jump back into coverage if needed. Parcells has already made the comparisons to LT. Ware has Parcells full endorsement and that carries a lot of weight. Ware is coming onboard a pretty good defense and he will gain multitudes from the veterans.

MLB: Dat Nguyen - how much does Parcells value Dat Nguyen? TONS! In fact, when the whole Darren Howard trade rumors erupted, Parcells was adamant on not trading away Dat. Parcells loves the heart and play of Dat, its undeniable. Dat will man the MLB spot and will excel in the 3-4, Dat was very effective at MLB when he played at Texas A&M, and will continue to do so this year.

MLB: Bradie James - last year James started a few games in Dexter Coakley's spot, but at times James seemed unsure and lost. In addition, the OLB spot demanded some outside coverage in the slot and James got ate up. James will move back to his true comfort zone at MLB where he played at LSU. The MLB position suits James better and right now this is his job to lose. By no means is this position a shoe-in for James, we're going to see fierce competition from Fowler and Shanle. For now though, James gets my nod.

OLB: Kevin Burnett - the defense is in need of more playmakers, and the drafting of Burnett high in the second round will bring that playmaking ability. Parcells loves leaders and team captains. Burnett was a two-time team captain at Tennessee; and now with the Cowboys, you'll see how that translates into success on defense. Burnett started out as a safety, but eventually moved to OLB. With Burnett the Cowboys get a true OLB that can go into coverage with the slot and in the flat, he'll take out the screen and the TE. Burnett is a big hitter, he's well rounded in coverage and can come quick with the outside rush. Couple an outside rush with Ware and Burnett and we're looking at a brutal arsenal on the outside rush.

CB: Terence Newman - Newman is coming into his third season, and this will be his second season with the controversial pass interference rule that was put in place last year. Newman will be adapted and will have adjusted well. I fully expect his shutdown game to resurface in 2005. The frontline pressure from the Dline and LBs will be there, and this will do wonders for the cornerbacks and safeties.

CB: Anthony Henry - the cornerback opposite Newman last year was a huge void and at times seemed like a circus carousel, going round-and-round with no resolve. Now comes the solild play of Henry, and cornerback coach Todd Bowles came along as well. The signing of Henry solidifies the starting corners for years to come. Henry will also excel in coverage and the aid of Roy Williams roaming around will help as well. The CBs have some added depth with the return of Hunter, Thornton, Frazier, Jones, and Reeves. Not to mention the Cowboys just added the Pro Bowl veteran Aaron Glenn. Glenn adds instant credibility and depth to the CB core.

SS: Roy Williams - we should see Roy Williams leadership role expand this year, the "horse collar" rule will not stop Roy from taking you out. Roy is a solid tackler and the biggest hitter in the league. Not only does Roy bring the pain he also brings the psychological factor. When you've been bitten by the big bad dog, you tend to stay away don't you, wouldn't you? The upgrades on defense will allow Roy to play closer to the box and allow him to destroy people at the point of attack.

FS: Keith Davis - its still early and we may see someone become available at the June cuts, but for right now, Keith Davis is the starting FS. Davis is more of the FS type player, a ball hawker, and he's proven to be a key playmaker on special teams. Parcells will harness this skill and give Davis a shot to start at FS. FS is probably the only weakness or question mark for the Cowboys going into camp in July. We'll keep on eyes on this.

Did we leave anybody out? Glover perhaps? No worries, Glover is a true playmaker on the defensive line, and his speed and technique is undeniable. You'll see Glover used as a transition player and situational. You simply cannot keep Glover off the field, and he will make plays. Worried about Glover in a 3-4 at NT? Don't be, Glover has stated several times in interviews that he is looking forward to the new alignment, but the 3-4 is nothing new for Glover, Glover started out his football career in a 3-4 and did quite well. Coach Parcells has always stated the same comments. Glover WILL be used and WILL be effective.

Rotation: In rotation, the depth is shaping up to be solid. DE Chris Canty is still recovering from his injuries, but is coming along well and could be ready for the early part of training camp. Before his injuries last season Canty was a highly rated player, and could be an absolute steal in the 4th round for the Cowboys. Canty has great size, long arms, and power to do same great things for the defense. In addition, we'll see Ogbogu in the DE rotation, along with the rookie JayRatliff from Auburn. Carson and Brooks could see some rotation time at DT/NT.

For the linebacker, we'll see Al Singleton move into a backup rotation role. I see Burnett taking over early on in training camp. In the rotation, you'll see Fowler, Shanle, and Thornton.

For the cornerbacks, you'll see Glenn, Frazier, Thornton, Reeves and Jones in rotation and in nickle and dime formations.

For the safeties, you'll see the rookie Justin Beriault in a backup role, most likely under Roy Williams and Lynn Scott for the backup role at FS. This area is still thin with lots of inexperience, We could see an addition here in the coming months in the form of a starting FS vet, or someone for depth purposes.

Your starting defense:
DE - Marcus "Swamp Thang" Spears
NT - Jason Ferguson
DE - Greg Ellis
OLB - Demarcus Ware
MLB - Dat Nguyen
MLB - Bradie James
OLB - Kevin Burnett
CB - Terence Newman
SS - Roy Williams
FS - Keith Davis
CB - Anthony Henry

5/12/2005

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It's A Swamp Thang

News is slow, and we were able to coin a nickname that will fit our Rookie DE Marcus Spears perfectly.
Marcus "Swamp Thang" Spears. Spread the word, this defensive monster is going to be unleashed and cause havoc all day!

5/09/2005

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Parcells Guys Editorial

Why Can’t Bill Parcells Coach Past 2006?

Cowboy’s fans have heard time after time that Bill Parcells will not be with the team after his contract expires in 2006. Here’s the problem, neither Jerry Jones nor Bill Parcells has ever made this statement. The media just assumes that Parcells signed a four-year contract and if he doesn’t win a Super Bowl in that time frame he will simply walk away from the Cowboys. I think this is a rather poor assumption.

The one issue always mentioned when people spoke about Coach Parcells past retirements was the idea he may un-retire at some point in time. The game of football is Bill Parcells passion in life. He has accomplished enough things in the NFL that if he retired today, his name would still be mentioned in the “best coach ever” conversations.

Coach Parcells didn’t come back to the game in 2003 to earn more money or because he liked the scalding Texas heat in August. This man loves his job. He loves being around the players and coaches. Coach Parcells and Jerry Jones have grown to respect each other more and more as they discover each of them desire many of the same goals for this football team. I think all of these variables will be the same at the end of the 2006 season as they are today. A clean bill of health, plus some success in 2005 and 2006 will leave Coach Parcells with no other choice but to stay with Cowboys as their head coach.

Some of you are saying that he is going to be 65 years old heading into the 2006 season. So what? There have been numerous coaches who have coached at that age in the NFL, many of them having very successful teams. I will give you one example. Marv Levy took over the Buffalo Bills head coaching position in 1986 at the age of 61. He led the Bills to four Super Bowls as their head coach. Levy was a lifer in the football world just like Coach Parcells. He retired in 1998 at the age of 72 after leading the Bills to eight playoff appearances in 11 seasons. If the Cowboys and Coach Parcells can duplicate those numbers in that amount of time us fans should consider ourselves lucky. Do not forget the three years before Bill Parcells; the team was 5-11 in each of those seasons. Ouch!

Now I know there are two parties involved in deciding who coaches the Cowboys. So it isn’t entirely up to Coach Parcells if he indeed did want to continue coaching past the 2006 season. Jerry Jones also has a say in the matter. Jones came into the NFL in 1989 with deep pockets and a brash college coach, Jimmy Johnson. After two Super Bowl victories Johnson had enough reasons to move on in his career. The Cowboys did win another Super Bowl, but that victory for then head coach Barry Switzer will always have an asterisk. All of the players making up the 1995 team were Johnson’s guys. Plus most of the playbook never changed after Jimmy left town. Beginning in 1996 the Cowboys began a downward descent which most of us fans weren’t sure would ever end. Jerry had discarded Switzer by 1998 and hired guys he could control from the owner’s box during games. Chan Gailey in 1998 and Dave Campo in 2000. These guys were pawns and we should thank our lucky stars Jones realized after the 2002 season he needed a coach with some NFL pedigree to turn this thing around. Enter Coach Parcells and his three Super Bowl appearances. So far the Cowboys have had one great year and one terrible year under Parcells, but at least the rest of the NFL once again respects the franchise. Jerry Jones is no dummy. He knows as long as Coach Parcells is in Dallas there will be players willing to come here and the opportunity to win games will be very real for the Cowboys.

I must admit the idea of Coach Parcells leaving after 2006 was planted in my brain as a matter of fact. But that all changed after listening to Jerry’s comments last week on Espn Radio’s Dan Patrick show. He said that Coach Parcells looked rejuvenated after bringing in some talented new player via the draft and free agency. Now I think Jerry would love to have Coach Parcells back after 2006. I think in some way Jerry has learned that being an owner in the NFL is his thing, being a coach in the NFL is not. Jerry shows his passion for the Cowboys day in and day out so we know he will do all he can to keep the Cowboys in the elite class of NFL teams. I hope Jerry and Bill decide to run this team together for a long, long time.


Barring any health issues I think Coach Parcells does sign a contract extension one day, maybe for another four years. Hopefully by then he will be heading into training camp as a three or four time Super Bowl winning coach. Go Cowboys!

5/03/2005

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The hitch-hiker’s guide to the Cowboys galaxy
By Maxx Factor

In a rush

As many huddled around their radios, TV sets, and worked the refresh button on their web browsers like an old lady at a slot machine at an off-strip casino in Vegas, four syllables were going through the heads of most Cowboys fans while the clock ticked down on the 11th pick on draft day. “Shawne Merriman”looped about like a broken record. So obviously when the syllables “De-mar-kus Where” rang out like a fart in church, “blasphemy!” was cried. But that’s the blind faithful for you, always going with the guy that gets the most press. I’ll be the first to admit that I raised an eyebrow, but it was the 20th pick that had your dear Edwards-wanting Watson piecing this all together.

Enter Marcus Spears, a big, 3-4-type body with a nose for the ball. Having watched some of his finer performances I was most impressed with his interior play. This guy can implode a line like a house of cards. We just may get to see those Ware situations happening as planned. Roy Williams joining the party sound good?

Not so fast.

The Cowboys have yet to seriously address the free safety position. Hopefully an effective pass rush being introduced to this defense can help a young guy out.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the free safety position more of a committee this season kind of like we saw at second corner last season. If this pass rush shapes up like the Cowboys are hoping, there should be enough opportunities for big plays to go around.

Peanut butter sandwiches

Although the defense wasn’t “thu” problem with this team before the draft and it is even less of one now, the Cowboys chose to make their strongest point stronger at the 2005 NFL Draft. I cannot fault this strategy completely, but it’s starting to make me think about peanut butter sandwiches.

That’s right. Peanut butter sandwiches. See, they taste good but there’s just too much peanut butter. They are hard to swallow without some jelly or at the very least a banana. I love Coach Parcells and all, but trying to swallow his “our defense gave up 25 points a game and you can’t win with that” logic, considering the abortive state of his offense in 2004, is like trying to choke down that peanut butter sandwich.

Let me explain.

Last season, Coach Parcells and Jones at different times pointed out the inconsistencies and ineptitudes of Offense ’04. If the Cowboys couldn’t get points on the board they couldn’t expect to win. The overtone last season of every Parcells press conference radiated offensive ineptitude and just about every phase of it. So last year “we had to score more points”, but this year “the defense can’t give up 25 points per game and expect to win.”

Which is it?

Let’s talk about 4 losses from the 2004 season that in addition to the six victories could have had very different outcomes had the offense just done anything.

“PURPLE HAZE”
Okay, it would be no surprise that the Vikings beat the Cowboys, but on opening day against the Vikings the Cowboys looked to actually be competing until five minutes after the 2nd half started. While the defense had their hands full containing that Vikings offense featuring you know who, the offense couldn’t score a single point in 25 minutes and 41 seconds. The Cowboys could not get past the 40 without fumbling. The 40 yard-line seems to be the Cowboys’ Waterloo all too frequently. Realistically, how can you ask your defense to keep going out there to stop Randy Moss if you keep fumbling the ball away and punting and not scoring for 25 minutes? Come on. Score points, get a lead on the Vikings defense for cryin’ out loud, and force the pass. It’s amazing how much easier that game gets than the mountain they created in the 2nd half. Remember, Randy Moss quits after a two score deficit and Minnesota did finish 8-8.

“IF IT’S BROWN, FOR GOD SAKES FLUSH IT DOWN”
Yes, defense wins championships for some teams. For other teams it just may get you a win against the 5-11 Browns. This was a war of attrition that the Cowboys would have never “won” had the defense not played above and beyond the call of duty. The Cowboys offense was an abortion. Again, they found it impossible to score a single point in well over 15 minutes against a defense begging to be scored on the whole game. Instead, the Cowboys turned the ball over four times with Vinnie Testeverde throwing three interceptions in the last 15 minutes and 42 seconds. It’s hard to say the Cowboys won this game. I would instead say they just didn’t lose. It was the defense, not the offense, that took the pressure off of themselves by being spared a winning drive situation in the final minutes of the game instead of a tying one.

“THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS! NAH… NEVERMIND”
10 points against a 6-10 team aint gonna cut it. Going scoreless for the entire second half aint gonna cut it. Failing to convert a 4th and 1 is pathetic. You know what happens when your defense has been repeatedly put back on the field to chase Tiki Barber around the yard so often that they finally give up drives of 3:58, 3:15, and 3:15 in the 4th? You lose, that’s what.

“CONGRATULATIONS, THE BENGALS JUST BEAT YOU… AND BAD”
If that isn’t self-explanatory enough, then consider the lone Dirk Nowitzki ringer from downtown the Cowboys put on the board. Any questions? The Cowboys scored 3 points against the Bengals. Three points! THREE points! Who the hell only scores 3 points against the Bengals? That’s not enough to win some hockey games.

Well, you have your health…

Don’t you hate hearing that? Usually that is uttered when not much is going your way. For the Cowboys’ offense it means something different, for it might indicate that everything is going their way in 2005.

The Cowboys had some offensive misfortunes last season and they contributed greatly to their offensive chaos. Obviously Julius Jones being sidelined for 8 games was a doozy. Losing Terry Glenn for the season was a killer. How prepared were the Cowboys to lose those two players? Not very. How prepared were they to lose just one of them? Equally as bad.

Starting with the offensive line, the Cowboys are again putting their faith in Flozell Adams, Larry Allen, and Al Johnson, a unit that should be solid. The right side, however, is a bit more stressful to ponder. Marco Rivera, the big free agent splash, is a lock to take over right guard, obviously. Rivera is already an injury concern. If he is able to play effectively, this season that will be one less headache for Big Bill. But if Rivera goes the way of Darren Woodson, then you’re left with the green Stephen Peterman, flag machine Andre Gurode, and the human sled, Tyson Walter.

The gaping hole (or non-gaping hole rather) at right tackle is a big pink elephant in the room. Assuming Pittsburgh tackle Rob Petitti isn’t a starter this season, we look to 3rd year tackle Torrin Tucker and 2nd year tackle Jacob Rogers.

Does Torrin Tucker have that break-out season and nail down the fort? He’d better, because if not his fate lies in a conversation Tom Landry and Bill Parcells once had. Say it with me, “if a player hasn’t shown anything by his third year.. bla bla bla”. Tucker has some upside, so I would say he’s got a full count.

Jacob Rodgers played left tackle at USC and there has been some speculation about moving Adams over to right tackle and putting Rodgers at left. Can Adams play right tackle? Who knows? This is why this shouldn’t and probably won’t happen. The Cowboys aren’t in the business of adding any more of these: ?

The Cowboys simply cannot afford more than one significant first team injury to the offense this season. This becomes all the more sensitive considering the roll they will play in giving this young defense a chance to succeed.

Before you entertain any question about the play of Jones, Johnson, Bledsoe, Rivera, Witten, or Glenn in 2005, first entertain the question: “will he be healthy?” They will all need to be healthy more than anything else they can be this season because, sadly again, the Cowboys can’t afford to lose any one of them.

5/02/2005

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Parcells Guys Editorial

"Thugs" Need Not Apply

Coach Parcells should get the award for Man of the Year. Parcells stated to the media in his rookie mini camp press conference last Friday that he does not want any “Thugs” on his team. Bravo! You have to love this way of thinking if you’re any kind of decent person living in America today.

What is a "Thug" to Coach Parcells? Let’s answer that question on different levels. A “Thug” is the guy who feels he is so talented he needs no coaching. A “Thug” is the guy who thinks I am in the NFL so therefore I am above the law. A “Thug” is the guy who can’t wait to get out of practice because his new rims just came in for his $90,000 drop top. A “Thug” is the guy on the team that everyone knows is coming out with a rap album soon. A “Thug” is Derek Ross and Antonio Bryant rolled into one.

Bring me stand up young men who appreciate the game of football. Don’t bring me super athletes who want to skip practice in the morning because they were out at the club all night. Bring me the scrappy kid will bust his ass out there on the field for the team. Don’t bring me super athletes who want to play full speed some of the time when the mood hits him. Bring me football players who lead by example and make the rest of the team better. Don’t bring me super athletes who run their mouth all day, then get in the huddle and don’t know the play the QB just called. Bring me the guy who says “we” whether the team wins or loses. Don’t bring me the guy who says “I” when the team wins, and “them” when the team loses. Bring me Demarcus Ware, Marcus Spears and Kevin Burnett. Don’t bring me Terrell Owens.

Maybe I am showing my age, 33 for the record, but I have seen the recent trend of NFL players becoming media whores over the last fifteen years. These guys always self- promoting and trying to get everyone in the world to recognize them. Me, me, me has been accepted on some teams in the NFL, but these teams lose more than they win. When you have 11 guys on the field acting as one unit the chances for success are good. When you have 11 guys on the field and one guy wants to be the center of attention the chances for success are not very good. Think of it like a car with three wheels going left and the fourth wheel wants to make a right turn. Uh oh, better get Maaco!

Coach Parcells made an interesting comment the other day. He praised the Patriots for the type of players they have on their team. He said “hey, I see what type of players have been winning championships the past few years”. I know, I know. I hate the Patriots too folks, but we all have to admit he has a point. Teams win championships in the NFL, not individual players. “Thugs” don’t play team football, they play me, me, me football. Funny how the Eagles picked up the loudest “Thug” in the game last season and lost in the Super Bowl. Plus he’s whining his way into a holdout and calling out his quarterback on his Super Bowl performance heading into the 2005 season.

Bill Parcells is too old for “Thugs”, Jerry Jones is too old for “Thugs” and us Cowboy fans are too old for “Thugs”. The media outlets in this country should listen to this philosophy and stop giving all these knuckleheads the front-page headlines. Wouldn’t it be nice to see this headline someday “Thugless Cowboys win Super Bowl XL”. Go Cowboys!

5/01/2005

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Defensive Mastermind
by Howard Cox

Mike Zimmer made the biggest cut of his career just two years ago. When Bill Parcells took over as Head Coach he cleaned house of the old staff. Gone was most of the supporting cast when Dave Campo was fired. For some reason Parcells felt it a good decision to keep the young Defensive Coordinator on as director of his team’s defense. Why?

He was first hired as a defensive assistant in 1994. His assignment was working with the nickel defense. At the end of the season the Dallas secondary was ranked as the top pass defense in the league. The story begins to unfold for the young coach who previously had no NFL coaching experience. In 1995 he was promoted to being in charge of the entire secondary. From 1995 – 1998 the Dallas secondary excels on the field. Tying the club record of 4 INTs returned for touchdowns. 1996 and 1998 Deion Sanders and Darrell Woodson both earn Pro Bowl honors. In ’97 they really achieved superior marks. Zimmer’s secondary finished #1 in the league in fewest completions allowed, #3 in net yards per pass play and yards per completion. 12 times opposing offenses were held to 200 yards or less, including 5 to 120 yards or less. Easily showing Zimmer had what it takes to coach in the NFL. So the following season he is promoted again to Defensive Assistant Coach. Once again in 1999 Zimmer’s secondary answered the call of their coach. The unit finished 4th in the NFC in passing defense. Tied for 6th in the NFL in interceptions and tying the team record by returning 4 for touchdowns. All this while injuries forced Zimmer into using 5 different starting lineups throughout the season. Looking back over his first 6 years as an NFL defensive coach you can start to see just what Parcells noticed when he arrived in Irving, TX in 2003. We must retrace back to the year 2000 first, so take another ride with me into the career of our Defensive Coordinator.

Dallas then brought in a new Head Coach named Dave Campo. Why is this important? Only because during Zimmer’s time in the secondary his boss as Defensive Coordinator was none other than Dave Campo. With his promotion to Head Coach, Campo knew he needed a solid leader for the entire defense. His choice was to give the position to Mike Zimmer. Now Zimmer controlled not only the Dallas secondary but the front seven as well. A daunting task for any young coach, even more so under the spotlight of “America’s Team” and owner Jerry Jones. A few seasons had passed since Dallas ran among the top teams and the owner was attempting to put the pieces together again to get his team included in “Super Bowl talk” once again.

The 2000 season wasn’t easy for the new defensive coach. Injuries caused 5 starters to miss a total of 33 games. No excuses are allowed though because injuries happen and games must still be played, and won. As a unit, during Zimmer’s “rookie” year, they answered the challenge. Once again the secondary lead the way finished ranked 3rd in the league for yards allowed and overall Dallas’ defense finished ranked 19th in total defense. A decent end to his first season but not enough to come through with playoff level football. So in 2001 all he did was improve the defense from 19th overall to 4th overall in the league. They raised the run defense from 31st the previous year to 13th, showing the biggest turnaround in the league for rushing yards allowed. Continuing to shine the secondary finished 3rd again. In 2002 Zimmer’s secondary sported 2 rookies starters in safety Roy Williams and cornerback Derek Ross. Despite having the youngest secondary in the league the unit still was able to perform solidly. Rankings didn’t look good, being 19th vs. the pass and 15th vs. the run (18th overall), but the defense still showed substantial performances. The two rookies finished with 5 interceptions each, the defense allowed just 32 touchdowns (7th best in the league) with only 10 rushing (5th best in the league). This was the resume Bill Parcells got to read when he became the head coach in 2003. Now you know the answer to the question “Why” from the opening paragraph. Dallas had a solid leader on the defensive side of the ball and Parcells knows – “Defenses Win Championships”.

During Parcells first year the defense ranked overall #1 and #2 in points allowed. He knew he had made the right decision. 2004 saw one injury takes its toll on the secondary when safety Darren Woodson missed the entire season. Other personnel decisions backfired and the defense struggled greatly. Unflinching, Parcells regrouped with signing three key free agents for the defense and also restocking it with solid young draft picks. Zimmer has the goods to put together another solid defense and the league shall not be laughing once they take the field in 2005.
Standing ovation for Mike Zimmer and his Defensive Mastermind!!!