Straw That Stirs The Defenses Drink? ⋆
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Straw That Stirs The Defenses Drink?

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

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