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3-4 defense needs playmakers

Rick Gosselin's latest article deals with the 3-4 defense. I seem to be in a minority when it comes to Cowboy fans because I favor the 3-4 defense over the 4-3. It's my hope that even if Bill Parcells doesn't come back that we hire someone that will continue to run the 3-4 defense. Gosselin takes a look at the teams that run the 3-4 and came up with some instructive notes.

The Cowboys have the right idea on defense. But the Chargers, Patriots and Ravens have the right players.

Six NFL teams used a 3-4 scheme as their base defense in 2006 and half of them have reached the conference semifinal playoff round. This comes on the heels of 3-4 defenses winning the last three Super Bowls.

When a team has the right personnel in place, and have a creative coordinator that can take full-advantage of what the defense can do, it can be a devastating defense.  But Dallas has yet to get a coordinator who can do the defense justice and it has yet to acquire the correct personnel to run it at maximum efficiency.
The 3-4 is a linebacker-driven scheme and the Cowboys don't have enough difference-makers there. Baltimore's four starting linebackers combined for 35 sacks. So did San Diego's. Dallas got 18½ from theirs.

Greg Ellis' possible return and the emergence of Bobby Carpenter could help. But they also need more aggressive play from the defensive ends and a secondary that doesn't get burned regularly. I still have high hopes for the 3-4 defense in Dallas.

The latest rumor in Dallas concerns the possibility of moving Anthony Henry to FS.

Cornerback Anthony Henry might be moving to free safety, according to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

During his weekly radio show on KTCK/1310 AM The Ticket, Jones said the switch was a possibility and the 6-foot-1, 208 pound Henry has played the position before. A four-year starter for South Florida, Henry spent his first three years at free safety before moving to cornerback as a senior. He also played free safety in high school.

Don't believe it. They might have Henry play some coverages from the safety spot, but I don't see a full-time move there for Henry. It's more likely that Pat Watkins and someone brought in from outside will compete for the starting position. I think Parcells has settled on Keith Davis being a special teams guy and Abe Elam is probably not ready to be a starting safety. Look for Watkins and a free agent or draft pick to battle it out.

Drew Bledsoe's run is Dallas is almost assuredly over. They are talking about it delicately, but his contract is prohibitive so the Cowboys will go for a cheaper backup.

Bledsoe is due a $1 million roster bonus in March and is scheduled to count about $7.5 million against the salary cap if he returns. With Tony Romo having led the Cowboys to the playoffs, the Cowboys feel like they are set at starting quarterback.

"Well, I don't know that he'll retire," Jones said on The Ticket Friday morning. "That would surprise me. But it's probably not realistic to think that we could work something out here."

The Cowboys are also working on a new contract for unrestricted free agent Andre Gurode. This is good news, hopefully we can lock him up before he hits the market as a free agent and has serious discussion with other teams. Keeping Gurode and Colombo in Big D should be the first priority.

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