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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

REPORT: Cowboys DL David Irving’s Accuser Retracts Claims Of Domestic Violence

Kevin Brady



David Irving

After what was a rather crazy day which resulted in reports the Frisco Police Department were investigating Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving for domestic violence, the accuser has now retracted her claims.

This retraction comes after the mentioned reports of domestic violence claims against David Irving earlier in the day. Irving was neither arrested nor charged for the incidents, though two separate allegations were made.

Jobin Panicker on Twitter

BREAKING @FriscoPD confirms allegations made against Cowboys player David Irving were reported on April 22nd. At two separate times: 5pm & 10pm. Allegations made by girlfriend @wfaa

Irving has claimed through his own social media account that his accuser is an ex-girlfriend looking for retaliation over a breakup. Irving has already said he has changed the locks on his house in attempt to change behavior moving forward.

Whether or not Irving abused his reported ex-girlfriend is not for me to say, but it will be interesting to see how Roger Goodell handles the matter after she retracted her claims later in the day. As we know very well, the NFL can claim violation of the personal conduct policy even if the justice system pursues no charges.

And the results of both the Frisco PD's investigation and that of the league office will be intriguing over the coming weeks and months.

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Player News

REPORT: Cowboys DE/DT David Irving Suspected of Domestic Violence

Jess Haynie



David Irving

[4/24/18 UPDATE: Irving's accuser has since recanted with police. However, the NFL could still investigate under their domestic violence policy.]


Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving is under investigation by Frisco, TX police for charges of domestic violence, according to a report by Jobin Panicker of WFAA-ABC in Dallas.

The following was tweeted from Panicker's account not long ago:

Jobin Panicker on Twitter

BREAKING @FriscoPD confirms it is investigating serious allegations against Cowboys player David Irving. No arrests. Assault-Bodily Injury, Unlawful Restraint, & Assault-Impeding Breath and Circulation @wfaa

Jobin Panicker on Twitter

BREAKING @FriscoPD confirms allegations made against Cowboys player David Irving were reported on April 22nd. At two separate times: 5pm & 10pm. Allegations made by girlfriend @wfaa

The veracity of the accusations are certainly not ours to judge, but other recent events on Irving's social suggest he is in the middle of a breakup with his girlfriend. Posts early this morning on his Twitter account appeared to be from an unauthorized user, and David later posted on both Twitter and Instagram that someone had hacked him.

Furthermore, Irving shared that he was already taking steps due to the volatile situation.

David Ja Rodd Irving on Twitter

@DCBlueStar Changed the locks yesterday

While personal lives should stay that way, Cowboys fans are understandably concerned after what happened last year with Ezekiel Elliott. As we saw then, Roger Goodell's "justice" system allows for just an accusation to lead to a suspension. There is no burden of proof on the accuser.

And as in that case, even if the police dismiss the allegation, the NFL can still pursue the matter under the personal conduct and domestic violence policies.

It would be nice to just say "let the process play out," but the NFL commissioner doesn't hold himself to that standard. Therefore, we have to report this as it could mean consequences for David Irving and the Dallas Cowboys no matter how legitimate the claims are.

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Player News

Jaylon Smith Practicing Without AFO Brace

John Williams



Jaylon Smith Voted Cowboys' Ed Block Courage Award Winner 1

A lot of the talk circling the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL Draft is the need for the Cowboys to draft a linebacker as insurance to Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith's injury issues.

One of the questions, Sean Lee, will always be a question. When he's on the field, he's as good a linebacker as there is in the NFL. In 2016, he finally got in a near full season and rewarded the Dallas Cowboys with an All-Pro season that led the team to the playoffs. Talent has never been the issue with Lee. Keeping him on the field has been.

Jaylon Smith's question isn't his health as much as it is his recovery. The surgery to repair his ACL and MCL that he suffered at the end of his final season at Notre Dame was considered a success. There was a caveat, however, that there was no telling how much functionality would return because of the massive nerve injury that occurred.

Last year, Jaylon Smith actually played football games. No small step. In some games he made some plays and in other games, it was clear that he was still struggling with changing directions and running with receivers and running backs in coverage.

Time is Jaylon's biggest ally and another offseason removed from his injury should only help him get stronger and more confident in his recovering knee.

Lost in all of the Dez Bryant hoopla was a beautiful little nugget that Jaylon Smith teased Cowboys Nation with last week.

Jaylon provided a great look at his training regimen on the first day of team workouts and if you look closely, you'll see with a Clear Eye View that Jaylon Smith isn't wearing a brace, tape, or any other kind of support. On his knee or foot.

Jaylon Smith on Twitter

Focused vision, Determined belief, Earned dreams. #ClearEyeView

Remember that even after Jaylon was playing and practicing without a knee brace, he was still requiring an AFO brace to help with his foot drop.

Oh, how much one offseason can change things.

Mike Fisher, now of, quoted Smith as saying, "I have more power and more flexibility now. And the dropfoot (issue) is fading. Absolutely!'' over on, and there was this:

"As our colleague Bryan Broaddus has previously noted, it does seem that some of the testing is behind him, that the nerve is regenerating, that the repaired knee is stronger than ever and that more improvement is ahead of him. Smith's 6-2, 245-pound body is about as sculpted as is imaginable. His mind is sculpted, too, the result of his faith and his intellect and his personality and more. He suggests now that more improvement is inevitable, and that includes the medical improvement that is now, to him, simply "a matter of timing.'''

Mike Fisher - 105.3 The Fan and

There is still a lot of hope around The Star and Cowboys Nation that Jaylon Smith can return to the All-American form that was projecting him as a top-five talent in the 2016 NFL Draft. If he's healthy and moving with better lateral movement and agility than he was in 2017, that's a huge step forward for Jaylon Smith and the Dallas Cowboys.

The progression of his knee and his confidence in said knee is going to be a huge determining factor in Dallas' plans to draft a linebacker. If they feel confident that he will be a more functional linebacker in 2018 than he was in 2017, then perhaps they could wait until day two or three to address the linebacker position.

We can't fully know their intentions as we get closer to draft day. How they address the linebacker position in the 2018 NFL Draft could give us an excellent indication of how they feel about Jaylon Smith's progression.

What we do know is that Jaylon Smith will never give up working toward being an elite middle linebacker. Let's hope he can realize his dreams. Everyone will be better for it.

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