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Is the problem Anthony Spencer, or is he the victim of his surroundings?

When my wife was pregnant, I stopped drinking alcohol to show support for her in fostering the best environment possible to give our child every advantage. Those were nine long months.

I did not know that she would need to abstain from ingesting alcohol for another 6 months while breast feeding. In for a penny, in for a pound, I guess.

Just as the six months were over, we were blessed with our second pregnancy. It was almost immediate, and I had not taken advantage of the small window, thinking that I would have a few months to enjoy the wonderful flavor of a malty, smooth beverage trickling down my throat.

Pardon me while, uh... Aaaah. Thank you.

Anyhow, another 15 months of a self-imposed prohibition came and went. Two and a half years without a sip of beer.

Now mind you, I was tempted, but not for any reason that immediately comes to mind. No, I was tempted by my wife's uncle from Portland, Oregon. A self-proclaimed beer connoisseur, he explored my beer fridge (yes, I have a refrigerator that is used almost exclusively for beer. Have I mentioned that my wife is awesome?), and selected a wonderfully blended Milk Stout.

It was difficult to see him drink the beer. Considering that he knew both of us had abstained for around 16 months at that point, I am surprised that he poured the full bodied nectar into a chilled glass and brought the ambrosia to his lips. We stood around and spoke while he slowly sipped the suds.

Then it happened, he left the glass half full (or half empty, depending upon your viewpoint) and casually noted that he was full. That's right, he left a half-drank beer. A great beer that sat on the counter tempting me, annoying me because of the wastefulness of the situation.

Is it wrong to kick a guest out of your home for that? How about if he was the pastor who married you?

Excuse me again... Aaaah.

Forgive me for the lengthy introduction. But I cannot help but thinking that this whole idea of giving up on Anthony Spencer may be a lot like leaving a beer half full. If Spencer is a Bud Light...eh, no big deal. But what if Anthony is really a Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale?

About a month ago, Kegbearer wrote a thought provoking comparison study on Anthony Spencer (http://www.bloggingtheboys.com/2012/1/5/2685499/anthony-spencer-dallas-cowboys-better-than-you-think). It was illuminating, interesting, and original: everything that the mainstream media misses. Please take time to click on the link if you missed it the first time around.

Then I read a tweet where Bryan Broaddus of ESPN radio and ESPNDallas.com was mentioning that the Cowboys were looking to upgrade the center position this offseason (http://www.cowboysnation.com/2012/01/teasing-out-cowboys-off-season.html). Stephen Jones (who is the ying to father Jerry's yang) also noted that Dallas was interested in improving the secondary and the interior of the offensive line. Jerry echoed the sentiment regarding the offensive line (espn.go.com/blog/dallas/cowboys/post/_/id/4689754/cowboys-rush-the-middle-of-the-offensive-line).

Listening to "The Football Show" on ESPN radio, I was reminded that Doug Free put together a solid campaign when paired with Kyle Kosier on the left side of the line in 2010. Free's second season at left tackle, however, left a lot to be desired (http://sturminator.blogspot.com/).

The biggest change affecting Doug Free was that Kyle Kosier was not immediately to his right. In fact, the coaches directed a large portion of the credit for Tyron Smith's development to Kosier. My interpretation of what Jerry and Stephen were discretely noting is that by upgrading the play at center, the guards, and by extension the tackles would experience a significant improvement in their level of play.

Well, if improving the talent from the inside out could lead to exponential gains along the offensive line, why would that same theory not work on the defensive line? Last season's early unobtainable favorite was originally a projected 5-technique defensive end, Nick Fairley. By the time the draft rolled around, it seemed that the Cowboys had narrowed their primary targets to JJ Watt and Tyron Smith when the 9th pick came along.

Perhaps the Cowboys knew they needed to bolster the defensive end position to improve the defense. A talent like Tyron Smith, however, could not be passed over.

Then I watched the playoffs. I noticed that the teams playing primarily a 3-4 defense applying pressure to opponents had several disruptive defensive ends capable of consistently getting penetration into the backfield.

San Francisco had two pressure defensive ends in Ray McDonald (9.5 sacks) and Justin Smith (8.0 sacks). Houston also boasted two productive defensive ends in JJ Watt (9.0 sacks) and Antonio Smith (7.5 sacks). Haloti Ngata (5.0 sacks) spent time at defensive end for Baltimore, opposite Cory Redding (4.5 sacks), but also saw Pernell McPhee get plenty of pressure (6.0 sacks).

In fact, what was missing this past season from the Packers defense? The disruptive defensive end that played alongside nose tackle BJ Raji in 2010, Cullen Jenkins (7.0 sacks in 2010), was now collecting 5.5 sacks as a defensive tackle in Philadelphia.

How did that affect pass rusher extraordinaire Clay Matthews from the outside linebacker position? Matthews went from collecting 13.5 sacks in 2010 (and 10.0 sacks in 2009) playing mostly alongside Cullen Jenkins, to only registering 6.0 sacks in 2011.

Coincidentally, Anthony Spencer registered 6.0 sacks in 2011. So if losing a devastatingly disruptive defensive end could drop an elite outside linebacker's production from 13.5 to 6 sacks in one season, why could the acquisition of a productive defensive end not lead to greater production from Anthony Spencer? Maybe even helping Anthony garner double digit sacks for the first time in his career.

Could Dallas draft a defensive end and save Anthony Spencer's career, as well as exponentially improve the amount of pressure this defense could generate? Instead of dismissing a player that was obtained using a premium draft pick (a premium draft, mmm), perhaps this is what the Cowboys are/were thinking. Remember that for the first time, the Cowboys are seriously considering moving Ratliff to defensive end, leaving a need for perhaps just one disruptive defensive end

And please feel free to suggest a nice, full-bodied, malted beverage. My thanks in advance.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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