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Cowboys get defensive about their defense

The Dallas Cowboys are getting defensive...about their defense. The players have staged a mini-revolt and Wade Phillips seems to be listening. Tank Johnson is the vocal leader off the field, even if his play on the field has been suspect. I happen to agree with what Tank is saying and mentioned something along similar lines on DCFanatic's show yesterday. The Cowboys defense felt over-coached to me. I've been harping on the confusion in the secondary for weeks now, how players seem to be out of position and always staring at each other after plays in that classic pose of "That was your man...No, that was your man." Now, it's spilling over to the run defense. So my point yesterday was Wade needs to start trusting the talent of the players and just let it rip. Turn the dogs loose and see what you get.

I think this would have two positive effects. One, players would be more free to attack and use their skills instead of thinking about all the different calls and packages the Cowboys use on defense. This could lead to an impassioned team that starts playing with more emotion and less thinking. Second, although we were promised a more aggressive defense when Wade showed up and he told us his defense was easy to learn, that hasn't translated into reality. Lately we've been playing a bend-don't-break style that has basically become a bend-then-break defense. Let's give boom-or-bust a chance. Free the players Wade, trust in their talents and let them play.  

Ed Werder reported that Wade Phillips was taking over the play-calling duties from Brian Stewart. I listened to the same press conference that Werder did and I never heard Wade make that declaration. What I heard him say is that he would become more involved with the defensive play-calling, even though it appears he was already intimately involved with that process. Nick Eatman describes what Wade said this way:

While defensive coordinator Brian Stewart has been making the majority of the calls during the game, Phillips was rather vague when asked if he planned on taking over that duty this week.

"We have a game plan every game and we get called what we want called, yes," said Phillips, who was later asked more specifically if he planned on taking over the calls this week. "That's part of what we're doing. That's part of what we're evaluating."

So we'll see where all that ends up. To me, it sounds less like the actual play-calls were the problem than the fact that they were just trying to be too fancy, they had too many options in the gameplan. They were too clever by a half and want to get back to basics. Tank Johnson explains:

"Our identity is missing. We need to realize and figure out who we are and what we are going to be and be it and live and die by it," Johnson said. "Our identity should be a team that is going to line up and run the same calls every week and get good at it."

"Bottom line is we are trying to do too many things. We are a talented enough group that we can do two or three things and beat the stew out of people," Johnson said. "I think less is more when it comes to the talent we have. When you have so many talented players, give them a few things to do and give them a chance to get really good at it."

Preach on brother, preach on.

Wade Phillips and the hot-seat are now in the same sentence. Wade claims he won't change who he is and how he coaches while at the same time saying he will be making some changes in what the Cowboys do. One thing that won't happen, according to Jerry Jones, is Wade being fired during the season. JJT thinks that Wade should make some style changes. He points to Tom Coughlin and Mack Brown as examples.

In the end though, the Cowboys need to start playing with some emotion and energy. They need to approach each game as if they're the underdog. 

"You have to start playing this game with some passion," receiver Patrick Crayton said. "[Opponents] have been coming that way every freakin' weekend. That's why we're 4-3."

Pacman is in NFL-sanctioned treatment. Also in that article, this little nugget is buried at the bottom.

Wade Phillips said rookie running back Felix Jones' pulled hamstring is a four-week injury, which means he wouldn't return until Nov. 16 at Washington after the bye.

Well, that blows. I was holding out hope that El Gato would come back sooner, maybe for the Giants game. But if he needs time to heal, he needs time to heal.

We're often called the "Yankees of the NFL," so we decided to go into business with them. 


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