Richard Oliver has an article in the SA E-N today that ruminates on the pre-Internet days of the offseason and training camp. He recalls the limited information that fans used to get in those days - a snippet of news here and there. Instead, it was left to his imagination as to what exactly was going on in training camp.
Growing up in small-town Florida, I can relate. After the football season was over, the Cowboys might as well have been in a spring/summer hibernation as far as I was concerned. Sure, every once in a while there would be news about the Cowboys signing a player, or a major injury, or something like that. But I never new the details of what was going on at Valley Ranch or at the training camp location.
The Internet has certainly changed all that. Now, for you guys who grew up in the Dallas metro area, you probably got some decent information from the local papers. But us fans located around the country were as lost as Roy Williams in a Cover 2 defense – more on that below. Once the Internet made its mark and newspapers from around the country put their content online, we finally started to get some decent coverage. Today, with the advent of fan-driven media in concert with the mainstream-media, we have the Cowboys covered in such minutiae that everybody knows about the dating life of Tony Romo, that Leonard Davis pulled a horse out of the mud to safety, and that T.O. says more with his silence than he ever did with his mouth moving.
There’s no real point to this post, except to say that the Internet has allowed people from all around the world to follow their favorite sports teams in unbelievable detail, we get all the good along with all the bad. While I’m plugging the new-media, I’ll take the opportunity to point you to SB Nation’s home page, where you can find blogs on plenty of major sports teams, plus coverage of things like cycling, soccer, mixed-martial arts and more.
So I say: Boo unexpected lack of information. Hooray Internet.
Above I referenced Roy Williams being lost in the Cover 2 as a semi-joke. But all comedy has a grain of truth underneath, and there is some truth to Roy and the Cover 2. That leads us to this article at FOX Sports. A lot of ink has been spent on talking about the Phillips 34 defense. I think Cowboy fans are most excited about two things this year, Romo coming back with some experience under his belt and the attacking style of Wade Phillips’ new defense.
More and more of the focus this offseason seems to be falling on a couple of players on defense, Roy Williams and DeMarcus Ware. Out of all the changes for the defensive personnel under the Phillips 34 philosophy, these two stand out as guys who should benefit greatly.
Roy Williams will benefit because he will now be playing closer to the line of scrimmage as the Cowboys get away from the traditional Cover 2 scheme in the secondary. Without a doubt, Roy was a liability in coverage despite his protestations that we just didn’t understand what was going on and that it wasn’t his responsibility when he got beat. Sorry, that line of defense just didn’t wash. But now Roy is going to be playing seven-yards deep on a regular basis, he will be blitzing a lot more, and he will not be asked to cover the deep half of the field on a regular basis. Without that responsibility, Roy could have the kind of breakout year that will silence his critics who call him overrated.
Roy is a big-hitter, and he’s relatively nimble for a guy his size. If he can start making plays in the backfield and keep creating turnovers at a high level, the Cowboys defense can only benefit. At training camp, I’m going to watch for the nickel defense scheme. Hopefully, Wade will follow through on what he did at the OTA’s and minicamps by putting the Biscuit at linebacker on the nickel.
DeMarcus Ware’s responsibilities will also be changing in the Phillips 34. Everybody knows that Ware is one of the up-and-coming pass rushers in the league. Wade Phillips plans to exploit that skill to its fullest. Ware will not be asked to drop back in coverage nearly as often under Phillips. He will be doing what he does best, getting after the QB. But it goes further than that, Ware will also be moving around, lining up on the weak-side whether it’s on the left or the right. He will also be moved around occasionally to where he’s not lining up at the traditional WOLB position. All of this should make him a terror this season and a candidate for league-leader in sacks. He has that kind of ability; Phillips plans to see that it’s fully exploited.
I always like to see Cowboys players helping out at football camps. Like at this camp, where Bradie James and Marcus Spears will be teaching the kids. Why do I like it? It’s good for the Cowboys image, but it also helps to keep players from turning into the Cincinnati Bengals. Idle hands are the devil’s tools, and they are the foundation of ESPN's relentless pursuit of the sensational. Which leads us back to media coverage in the Internet age. There’s nowhere to hide, so if you screw-up, you can bet someone will know about and will post it on the Internet. Then you might end up in Roger Goodell’s office.
Boo unexpected trips to Roger Goodell’s office. Hooray Internet.