Matt Mosley, over at Hashmarks, is pumping up some interest in this article by Jeffri Chadiha about players who are the most indispensable to their teams. These are the guys you can’t win without. When no Cowboys player made his list of only 10 guys, I thought about who is the most indispensable Cowboy. The answer was too obvious, at least for me. Doesn’t it have to be Tony Romo? Looking at the choices of players we have on our roster today, the number one guy we have to have going into 2007 is Tony Romo. Brad Johnson is the only viable alternative, and he’s here to hold the clipboard and be a veteran presence. At his age, he’s not going to lead this team anywhere over the course of a season, he’s here as insurance for a game or two. Besides, we’ve been hearing all about Jason Garrett’s offense and the fact that the Cowboys want to go deep. By all accounts, Johnson wasn’t showing much arm-strength in minicamps. Romo is the guy they need to run this offense; he has to be the most indispensable Cowboy. No?
If I take him out of the equation, then it gets more interesting. Here are some candidates who come to mind and at the end the one who is the most indispensable, well, 2nd-most indispensable.
Flozell Adams – I only bring this up because it’s the left tackle position, and we don’t have an experienced backup among the other tackles. But we do have a guard, Leonard Davis, who could play tackle even though we don’t really want that to happen. Maybe Pat McQuistan could fill in and not be a major drop-off. After all, we weren’t that happy with Flozell’s play last year, anyway.
Jason Ferguson – I thought about Fergie, because we have no experienced backup. But, I do think between Jay Ratliff, Stephen Bowen, maybe even Marcus Spears, they could do a relatively good job of filling in if needed.
Jason Witten – Is there a TE capable of putting pressure on a defense in the passing game besides Witten? Anthony Fasano hasn’t shown it yet, and the Cowboys wouldn’t be replacing an ordinary TE, but one who is among the elite in the game.
Andre Gurode – There’s not a whole lot behind the guy, and this is a crucial position. He handles the ball on every offensive play, he needs to get it into the hands of the QB flawlessly every time, and he needs to make the line calls, besides being able to make his block. Right now, the backup situation is grim.
DeMarcus Ware – This was my first inclination after getting past Tony Romo. He’s the guy who has to bring the pressure for the Cowboys to succeed. He’s so gifted physically; it’s only a matter of time before he consistently dominates. But, we do have Greg Ellis (hopefully healthy enough to contribute), we brought on Anthony Spencer, and we already had Kevin Burnett and Bobby Carpenter if needed. Life without Ware would be a major drag, but at least we have some players to potentially step up.
Terence Newman – Here’s my choice. Without Newman, what could we do at the cornerback position? He’s the best player back there and a guy who makes the rest of the secondary better just by his presence. Aaron Glenn would probably be the replacement, but he is a small corner who is getting up in years, and was average, at best, over the last part of 2006. Then you’d have a nickel cornerback from either a rookie or some vets who rarely play defense. We’re trying to patch up our secondary now, without Newman, the hole would probably be too big to patch up.
And along that same theme of the secondary, here’s Adam Schein on nine players or coaches who are under pressure to perform this year. The Cowboys made the list with the only "group of players" who are under scrutiny this year.
Dallas Defensive Backs
Forget any other unit on the field for the Cowboys last year. The defensive backs were the main reason why Dallas fizzled down the stretch. This year, there will be no excuses. A consistent pass rush is the best friend of a defensive back, and with Wade Phillips running the Cowboys, you know the opposing quarterbacks will be hurried consistently. I still believe in Anthony Henry. The physical cornerback was playing hurt last year. Roy Williams can be more disciplined. Ken Hamlin fills an enormous void at safety.
Schein didn’t even have to mention what is so clearly obvious, it’s not all the defensive backs who need to improve, it’s just the ones not named Terence Newman.
I’d like to call your attention to Slamman’s diary about the defensive line. Boy, talk about going in-depth on a subject. It’s a good read, so check it out and drop a comment. Welcome to the blog Slamman, and thanks for the reading material.