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Lenny P. is all about the Cowboys today over at ESPN. He must be taking a cue from the NFL Network who turned yesterday into a celebration of America's Team on America's official holiday weekend, July 4th.

First up for Lenny P. is a story about the the Cowboys shift to the 3-4 defense. Parcells realized early on that he didn't have the personnel to make the switch right away, so he waited until he did. Last year that process was completed when he drafted DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears in the first round, and then added Chris Canty in the fourth round. Combining those guys with some free agent acquisitions and holdovers from the 4-3 formation, Parcells has what could be the makings of Doomsday III.

I've long been a huge fan of the 3-4 defense and couldn't be happier that the Cowboys are now using it. I was elated when Jerry Jones said the Cowboys will remain a 3-4 defense even after the Tuna has left the building. The 3-4 is an aggressive, attacking style of defense and when a team has the right personnel to run it, they can be devastating. Dallas now has that kind of personnel, especially after adding OLB Bobby Carpenter in this year's draft.

Cowboys fans should also be excited that this defense is so young. Jerry Jones will do his best to keep the nucleus together for years to come, and that task begins with re-signing Roy Williams and Bradie James. By the end of this decade, Cowboys fans will be looking back at what Parcells put together in his time here and will realize that the birth of Doomsday III began last year.

Lenny P. isn't done with examining our defense, he cranks out a very long article on burgeoning superstar DeMarcus Ware. Going into the 2005 draft, most observers had Dallas taking either Ware or Shawn Merriman. Dallas settled on Ware, but Merriman had the upper-hand in Season One of their NFL careers. I expect Ware to reverse that trend this year and to terrorize QB's for the next decade. From the article:

"Well, I managed to get one foot in front of the other, I guess, but I've still got a ways to go yet until I'm really up to speed," said Ware, the 11th player chosen overall in the 2005 draft and the first linebacker off the board, one slot ahead of Merriman, who was taken by San Diego. "It wasn't until the very end of the season before things started coming naturally to me. It's hard when stuff you're trying to do isn't second nature, where almost every move, you're thinking, 'OK, what now? What do I have to do to keep from messing this up?' Already this year, just in the minicamps and stuff, I feel so much quicker. And that's a result of being more confident and knowing what I'm doing. So, yeah, it's time to start walking the walk, and to be a lot more consistent, too."

This is the most important reason why I think Ware will make a quantum leap this year. Last year his read-and-react skills in playing a new position with multiple responsibilities hurt his ability to use his main weapon, speed. There were dozens of plays last year when Ware ended up a half-second away from a sack, most of the time because he was just a bit hesitant in recognizing the play and reacting to it.

His season last year was marked by an encouraging beginning, an inadequate middle, and a hard-charging finish. What happened along the way?  

Of his eight sacks, four came in his first six games, then Ware went a frustrating eight contests without a quarterback takedown. The discouraging drought ended after Ware watched a videotape of former star Kansas City sacker Derrick Thomas, and when Dallas owner Jerry Jones challenged Ware to show critics he was the equal of Merriman and he responded with a three-sack performance against Carolina on Christmas Eve. Ware added another sack in the season finale, giving him four in his final two outings.


In addition to watching video of Thomas, he has devoted hours to scrutinizing the peerless countermoves of Indianapolis standout right end Dwight Freeney, a relentless pass rusher who regularly beats double- and even triple-team blocking, frequently with his trademark spin technique. Ware also has pored over tapes of star Tampa Bay rusher Simeon Rice, who arguably uses his hands better than any end in the league. Last month, in an effort to improve his hand speed and upgrade the quickness with which he takes on tackles and redirects them, before disengaging, Ware began karate classes.

That's encouraging. Instead of just relying on his speed and taking what he could get, Ware made a concerted effort to improve his game.

Beware NFL quarterbacks, DeMarcus Ware is on the way, and you better be wary of where he is on the field.

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