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Dallas Cowboys

Straw That Stirs The Defenses Drink?



The 2009 version of the Dallas Cowboys defense will look and feel like a completely new unit. With an influx of young energetic, athletic players and a full season with Wade Phillips as the Coordinator will certainly change things.

There is one person however who holds the key to what this team can be, and it might not be who most of us would have thought either!

Now we could come up with at least a handful of names that at the very least could drastically change what this defense will be able to accomplish this year, Demarcus Ware, Terrence Newman, Bradie James, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick… just to name a few.

None of those guys can do for this unit what one Gerald Sensabaugh can though! I realize it sounds ridiculous to think that a guy who many of us did not even know who he was could suddenly be the main component in elevating this average defense to a top flight unit.

Gerald has already made a profound impression upon Wade Phillips during OTA’s, saying

“Sensabaugh looks outstanding” Phillips said last week. “He’s really got a lot of ability, good work ethic, but he can really cover a lot of ground. We can cover in man to man with him…he has great speed along with cover ability.”

I may not agree with a lot of the things that Wade Phillips does or does not do, but when that guy speaks about what he see’s in a defensive player, I do not question it!

When Wade tells us He can really cover a lot of ground. We can cover in man to man with him...” He is speaking volumes about what Gerald means to this unit! Everyone wanted an Ed Reed type of safety, well guess what, Wade just told us that we now have one.

In Baltimore’s system Ed Reed is allowed to roam around in the defensive backfield and to just “go after the ball.” They will play some zone coverage, but primarily they stay in a man to man scheme. Ed Reed thrives in this type of system for two reasons.

First, Reed is very fast, and secondly he has excellent cover ability. Now I am in by no means saying that Gerald Sensabaugh is about to become the second coming of Ed Reed (although I certainly believe it is a possibility) I am simply comparing the two systems and how safeties with these abilities can change the culture of those systems.

Gerald Sensabaugh will allow the likes of Demarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Keith Brooking, Bradie James, Jay Ratliff, and the rookies to pin their ears back and send blitz packages at the opposing offense that they simply cannot plan for.

Wade Phillips has been dreaming about this type of safety since he became the Head Coach here, and his players know it!

Wade is ready, and so are his troops, thanks to one Gerald Sensabaugh.


  • Jonathan

    The funny thing is, on another blog, an op was siting who he thought would be the x factor for the Cowboys in 09. He claimed that would Felix.

    I responded: I’m going to pick Sensabaugh. Not because he’s more of an impact player than Felix or Scandrick, but because Wade’s style of defense has missed a SS that can cover. In the process of hiding Roy Williams deficiencies, his ability to bring blitzes from everywhere have been hampered. Now that he has a SS that can cover, I actually expect the Cowboys to not only improve their sack total from last year, but I think they may even be in the top 10 with interceptions. Wishful thinking, I know, but Wade really seems to be excited about Sensabaugh’s ability, above everyone else he’s acquired through the offseason. To me, that is very telling.

    Nice to know that I’m not the only one who is looking forward to the dimension Sensabaugh adds to this defense…

  • Jonathan

    Oddly enough, the only thing the so-called experts seem to be focusing on is 9-7 and the release of T.O. Somehow, that now makes us an 8-8 team!? And I love it. As last year likely taught most of us, it is far better to be underestimated than overestimated.

    But, honestly, I feel as though this truly exposes the media. First of all, they rely heavily on stats to make the vast majority of their predictions. The problem with that method is stats can be misleading. For example, they point to Romo’s supposed December swoon to suggest that Romo can’t win the big game. How many QB’s throughout the history of football have gone winless in the play offs throughout their first several years? Quite a few. Terry Bradshaw, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, Troy Aikman – all considered great QB’s and yet when their career’s began, they experienced much of the same criticism that Romo is getting today. I would expect this from the average fan; but the “experts” should know better by now.

    Second, they completely disregard the fact that the Cowboys experienced more injuries to key players than they have since the 80’s; if not the most in the history of the franchise. Romo, Felix, Kosier, Holland, Hurd, Austin, Terence Newman, both Roy William’s, Marion Barber, Flozell Adams, Matt McBriar, Anthony Spencer, Ken Hamlin, Patrick Watkins, etc. etc. Granted, many wouldn’t regard a few of those as key players, however, I would argue that they were made key by the injury to the individual who was key. For instance, Holland replaced Kosier. Watkins replaced Roy Williams.

    Lastly, the Cowboy’s were real close to competing with the best teams in the league; namely the eventual Super Bowl teams – the Cardinals and the Steelers. The only games the Cowboys were dominated was against the Rams (I put that loss squarely on the shoulders of Bad “I mean Brad” Johnson) and the last game versus the Eagles (that was an offday for every member of the team). But even with the losses of T.O., Pacman, Tank Johnson, Chris Canty, Zach Thomas, and Anthony Henry, the Cowboys are still a very talented team.

    Top tier QB in Romo. One of the best, if not the best, trio of backs in the league. The best duo at TE; no question there. A WR group with obvious questions, but still alot of potential. An offense line that can dominate when healthy.

    On defense, the best OLB in the league Demarcus Ware. The most technically sound Strong Side Inside Linebacker Bradie James. When healthy, Terence Newman can nullify the best WR on just about any team in the league. And Jay Ratliff is a freak of nature at DT. Marcus Spears and Igor Olshansky, at least, should be solid at DE.

    Ken Hamlin has received alot of criticism, citing the two runs that sealed the win for Baltimore as being his fault. Personally, I think, while he may have not played like his 07 self, he was still solid in a situation where he was surrounded by inexperience throughout most of the year. That can be a very difficult situation for a Safety. As the QB for the defense, if you are more focused on making sure your youngens are eyeing the right assignments, that means you are spending less time eyeing what the offense is doing. I think this may have ultimately hurt his play. I expect Hamlin to have another break out year, particularly considering his Safety mate won’t be the liability it has been in the past.

    Above, I talked about Gerrard Sensabaugh being the X factor. He is not proven to be on the same level as the above players. However, again, it’s what he can do, that Roy Williams could not that makes him such an excellent acquisition and addition to this team. It’s what his position means to the Wade 3-4 that will likely make this defense the most dominating unit that it has been since 2003. Of course, I am only speculating here. But, then again, so are the experts!

  • btreece

    I was looking at Sensabaugh’s stats and realized that he has never recorded a sack before. Of course he has plenty of numbers, so I look at that stat as saying that he is a true cover safety. It’s what he knows how to do, and what he does best. Not knocking ole Roy Willy, but we got enough for the blitz, we need someone who can cover deep from the middle.

    Good article.

  • Bags030404

    I really believe we will finally get to see the “Full Package” from Wade’s playbook this year. The thing that is most encouraging for me is that I have known for a while that we had some really special defensive guys, but we were missing someone who could cover their butts deep. Now with Gerald the rest of the guys can let it all hang out there without fear of getting beat deep.

  • btreece

    And with all the controversy surrounding Phillips and 9-7, it seems like even the experts are leaving out the formerly undisputed fact that Wade Phillips knows the 3-4 defense and it’s constructors (players) better than anyone. It’s not even being disputed now, just ignored.

    So if he likes a player, a guy who has been mostly under-rated in the way that Sensabaugh has, who has had any type of legal issues, which he has, after the likes of Adam Jones, it is certainly worth looking at just why Wade likes Sensabaugh so much. He may not be Mr. Playmaker come August, but he certainly won’t be the guy nobody wants to be either.

    Great comment there Jonathan

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Losing Linebackers Coach Matt Eberflus to Colts

Jess Haynie



Matt Eberflus, Sean Lee

Multiple sources are reporting Matt Eberflus — who has been the linebackers coach and passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys — will leave to join the Indianapolis Colts as the new defensive coordinator. Eberflus has been with Dallas since 2011, having joined Rob Ryan’s staff when Ryan become the coordinator for the Cowboys’ defense.

He has been the linebackers coach during his entire Dallas tenure and was also named passing game coordinator in 2016.

Tom Pelissero on Twitter

With Josh McDaniels ticketed for the #Colts, former #Cowboys assistant Matt Eberflus is expected to come along as defensive coordinator, I’m told. Lot of parts falling in place now.

If not the Colts, some thought Matt Eberflus might end up replacing Matt Patricia as the defensive coordinator in New England. Either way, it does not appear Dallas could have kept him around while Rod Marinelli remains in his current position.

Eberflus’ work in Dallas speaks for itself, and primarily through LB Sean Lee.

He has been Lee’s position coach for all but his rookie season, and in that time Lee has been one of the top defensive players in all of football.

Beyond Lee, Eberflus has also been able to get quality play out of mid-round picks like Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson. We also saw Jaylon Smith make significant progress this season.

Given Matt Eberflus has never worked with Josh McDaniels before, the fact he was on the Colts’ radar says a lot.

Make no mistake; the Cowboys lost a good one here.

Don’t panic, however. Coach Marinelli has cast a very wide net during his time in the NFL and there are a lot of potential guys, some with plenty of experience, that Dallas might look to.

It’s entirely possible that Eberflus’ replacement will be someone who Marinelli spends 2018 grooming to take over as the defensive coordinator.

Still, of all the coaching changes so far for Dallas, this one hurts most.


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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Kevin Brady



Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Thus far the 2018 offseason has brought a plethora of change to the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Now it is being reported the Cowboys have hired a brand new offensive line coach, former Cincinnati Bengals’ Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander.

Alex Marvez on Twitter

Source tells @sportingnews that Paul Alexander hired as new @dallascowboys offensive line coach

Alexander coached with the Bengals for over 20 years, and replaces the same man in Dallas who replaces him in Cincinnati, Frank Pollack. Alexander has also been the Bengals assistant head coach since 2003.

The Cowboys recently lost an assistant head coach when Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia left for Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders.

Per usual, the hire has been met with mixed reactions from Cowboys Nation.

Joey Ickes on Twitter

Since 2003, CIN has had only one season where they finished top-10 in Yards per attempt on the ground… They’ve been bottom-5 in the league 5 times in that span… That’s the OL Coach DAL just hired.

The hiring of an offensive line coach who’s rushing attack finished bottom five in the league in rushing yards per attempt five times since 2003 doesn’t look too great on paper. He will also teach with different techniques and styles than previous Cowboys OL coaches, which could potentially set back the offensive line early in the season.

Plus, respected Bengals’ writer Joe Goodberry did not exactly love the hire for the Cowboys.

Goodberry on Twitter

Pretty bad

Regardless, this is still a very talented offensive line and one which should lead an effective ground attack based on their talent alone. 2017 proved further that coaching matters a lot in the NFL however, and the wrong hire could set back even the most talented of units.

We will just have to wait and see how this 2018 season ends up playing out.


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Dallas Cowboys

Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job

Sean Martin



Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates For Cowboys Vacant OL Coach Job 1

By keeping all three top coaches (Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli) in place for 2018, there isn’t a Dallas Cowboys coaching hire that feels like they “must” get it right to contend next season. This is how it should be.

Producing nine wins, despite missing key players throughout the season, the Cowboys are changing things up at the position coach level to hopefully introduce new ideas and give the talent on this team a better chance at sustained success.

One coaching vacancy that needs to be filled by the right guy above any else is on the offensive line, where things haven’t been the same since the great Bill Callahan departed.

Frank Pollack took his place, and now finds himself with the Cincinnati Bengals after not being retained by Dallas this offseason.

Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates For Cowboys Vacant OL Coach Job

Tom Cable (Stephen Brashear / Getty Images)

The first name that was thrown around in consideration for the Cowboys job was Tom Cable, which sent a panic throughout Cowboys Nation before Cable decided to sign with John Gruden and the Raiders.

Cable had been coaching the Seahawks’ OL, a position that franchise has not valued in some time, and struggled to develop any talent in protection of their franchise QB Russell Wilson.

Now, two new names have emerged as candidates to coach the likes of two-time 1st Team All-Pro LT Tyron Smith, 1st Team All-Pro C Travis Frederick, and two-time 1st Team All-Pro RG Zack Martin.

Mike Solari and Paul Alexander

Paul Alexander has already met with the Dallas Cowboys, looking for work after 23 seasons with the Bengals. During this time, Alexander served as Marvin Lewis’ assistant head coach, in addition to his duties as their OL coach.

Judging on reactions out of Cincinnati to Alexander’s departure, the Bengals offensive line regressed under him in 2017, warranting change from a franchise that is as reluctant as any to move on from coaches.

Goodberry on Twitter

Paul Alexander better be gone

Most recently, Mike Solari has served as the offensive line coach for the New York Giants — far from a renowned unit around the NFL lately. He does have previous experience with the Cowboys, having served as an assistant OL and special teams coach here from 1987-88.

From 2006-07, Solari did reach the rank of offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, which shows the level of respect that the 30-year NFL coaching veteran has earned.

He will be the Dallas Cowboys’ next interview for their open OL coach position.

Cowboys at Raiders: La'el Collins Faces Toughest Test Yet In Khalil Mack 1

Dallas Cowboys RT La’el Collins, RG Zack Martin

Depth at tackle, a long-term answer at left guard, and an extension for Zack Martin are among the questions facing the Cowboys offensive line moving forward. Whoever is in charge of keeping this unit up to standard in 2018 though, may hold the keys to getting the entirety of the Cowboys’ program back on track.

Whether it’s Alexander, Solari, or another outside candidate yet to emerge, Inside The Star will keep you updated on the Cowboys’ ongoing coaching search.

Tell us what you think about “Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job” in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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