I'm encouraged by news that Terence Newman will return healthy this week. I've reviewed the Redskins tape from week four and Washington's first half tear came almost exclusively against him.
Newman has averaged 6.3 in YPA the past four years. As KC Joyner noted in his Thursday chat, the injured Newman posted a 9.9 YPA the first month. That's backup- level and by far the worst number Newman has ever posted. If he's truly healthy, there's every reason to expect a quantum leap in performance.
I'm concerned by the changes Newman's return will likely bring. Wade Phillips is famously allergic to playing rookies, so I suspect that Mike Jenkins will take to the sideline and Anthony Henry will remain at left corner.
I think Henry should be the guy who makes way. He coverage has dropped off this year; he's posted an 8.5 YPA after 9 games. Last year, in his best season for Dallas, Henry put up a solid 6.6 YPA.
(For reference, Joyner considers any regular CB with a YPA under 7.0 a green, or upper-level corner. Numbers between 7.0 and 9.0 rate you a "yellow," or average CB, and numbers above 9.0 are "red" or backup quality.)
A source told me recently that he spoke to staff of a Cowboys' opponent, who told him they game planned at Henry rather than the still-green Jenkins because they don't feel Henry can run any more. His YPA suggests they made the right choice.
Jenkins sports a 6.4. That's a highly-respectable number for any player, especially a rookie. Note that it's better than Henry's Cowboys best.
It's no secret that Dallas needs better run defense. This will probably require more safety support, which means Dallas will need to play more press coverage. If the Cowboys want to make a run, they'll need to put their best athletes on the field. In my opinion they should go with Newman and Jenkins on the corners and Orlando Scandrick in the slot.
The staff may feel there's too much at stake to trust the new guys. I think there's too much at stake not to.
Of course, Henry is so fragile he may pull up again soon and make this argument moot.