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The Cowboys Nation - A Dallas Cowboys Blog | Page 6

Written by Darren | 08 September 2011

A new season brings a new format to the blog. Thursday’s will bring a reaction post where you’ll find an emotional rant about how good or how bad I might be feeling towards the upcoming weekend. Think of them strictly as posts from a die-hard fan.  Fridays will bring a more rational game preview, where some weeks I will include collaboration with a blogger from the other team. Monday mornings (or Tuesday mornings in some cases) will bring a recap of the game and what I think.  I try not to post a recap of the game immediately following the game because sometimes you need to just walk away for a bit. I hope you enjoy!!

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk this summer about how the Cowboys are “under the radar” but I am not buying it. The Dallas Cowboys are the NFL's most valuable franchise at $1.85 billion, according to Forbes magazine's annual survey and when you are the “most valuable franchise” you can’t tell me that your team doesn’t have expectations, that Jerry Jones has crossed off “Winning the Super Bowl” off his to-do list for the season. If you want to try and sell me on the idea that media is not putting any pressure on the Cowboys this season and that is where “under the radar” comments are coming from, fine, but in my opinion, Jerry Jones puts more pressure on his team than anyone in the media.

Week 1 isn’t looking pretty. If you missed the news, both Mike Jenkins AND Tyron Smith went down in practice on Wednesday with hyperextended knees. SERIOUSLY??!! I wasn’t even sure about Mike Jenkins being able to perform since he missed the entire preseason due to a “stinger” and now, I’m worried there is a just a dark cloud over this guy’s head. As for Smith, that hurts because I liked what he did in preseason and while he hasn’t been ruled out yet, you HAVE to sit him. You can’t put a rookie in there to protect Romo who isn’t 100%. The Jets D is vicious and we can’t afford the risks. Can Jeremy Parnell step in and proctect Romo?? God I hope so...
Combine Jenkins probably being out and Newman probably being out with the lack of depth in that position and I am really getting concerned that Sanchez is going to have party throwing to Burress and Holmes all night long. I hope DeMarcus can bring enough heat to disrupt Sanchez all night.

If that weren’t enough reason for concern, you have the 10 year Anniversary of Sept 11th on top of it all. I was at the World Trade Center on that fateful morning. I saw the first plane slam into the building (well the tail end of it anyway). I know the emotion that this day brings to me every year. We’re Americans; it affects us all but to open the season at the New York Jets is not an easy task. The Dallas Cowboys are about to walk into an environment that I don’t think they are quite prepared for. 

I don’t like the chances in this one. I think there are too many injuries and the defense just isn’t quite ready to put the Rob Ryan scheme on the Sunday Night National stage. Combine that with the emotion of the anniversary, this might get ugly quick.

Dallas: 0-1

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Written by Darren | 07 September 2011

 I'll be starting my Cowboys v Jets stuff tomorrow but I have to say I am excited to talk about meaningful football. For now, I decided just to post this video because 1) I love Friday Night Lights and 2) it sums everything up very well... Clear Eyes, Fulls Hears, CAN'T LOSE!!

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Written by Darren | 02 September 2011

The Cowboys close the preseaon with a 17-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins. It's the final week of the preseason, most of the starters don't play so what can you take away from a game like this??

* Dan Bailey and Shayne Graham didn't attempt any kicks while David Buehler and Dave Rayner missed their kicks so who will be the kicker? Sounds like Jerry knows what he wants to do. I would have to think that the Cowboys will keep 2 kickers, one being Beuhler who does well on the kickoffs but as for the FG kicker, I have no idea. Its ALWAYS been an issue with this team.

* Raymond Radway is done for the season as he suffered a broken left fibula and tibia. Sad thing about that story is it happened with 3 seconds left to play and honestly, I think he was 3 seconds away from making this team. I think he'll recover and be back next season.

* Jenkins and Newman haven't played a snap the entire preseason and that's a concern going into next Sunday night.

* After Thursday’s 17-3 loss to the Dolphins, Jones said undrafted rookie running back Phillip Tanner had made the team. Tashard Choice did not play Thursday because of a bruised knee and did not make the trip to Florida. If Tanner did make the team it is possible Choice could be on the bubble or trade bait.

* DeMarco Murray was the one good thing that happened last night. He ran the ball 10 times for 32 yards and caught four passes for 64 yards. His first play, a screen pass, went for 48 yards.

The Cowboys now have 10 days before they open the season in New York. That's 10 days to continue perfecting the Rob Ryan scheme. 10 Days for Jenkins and Newman to get healthy. Luckily the Cowboys aren't facing an elite NFL QB but with Holmes and Burress, the Cowboys Corners will have their hands full.

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Written by Darren | 26 August 2011

From time to time I get emailed or DM's on twitter asking me what my thoughts are this or that when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys. I thought it would be a good thing to answer those questions here. If I get enough questions each week, I could end up making this a weekly column. If you have a question, send it in!!

Q:  What are your thoughts on the Mike Jenkins injury?

A: I think a lot of people think of a “stinger” as something minor but in Jenkins case, it apparently isn’t. At this point in the year, I’m not a fan of rushing anyone back into the lineup but when it comes to Jenkins, he is missing valuable time not being out there with his teammates, learning the new Rob Ryan system. Hopefully things start to change for Jenkins because he needs to be out there practicing. No excuses for Jenkins this season, he needs to perform better.

Q: Do you think Philip Tanner will make the 53-man roster?

A: I certainly hope so. He looked terrific against the Chargers but it is certainly not out of the question that he ends up missing the cut. DeMarco Murray is going to make this team and a lot of people, including myself question Tashard Choice’s place on this team but the Cowboys know he can produce. If Tanner is going to make this team , he needs to repeat Sunday night a few more times and really show his stuff on special teams, otherwise the spot might go to Lonyae Miller. I for one an rooting for Tanner to make the cut.

Q: In your “Ring Of Honor” post, you gave some example of future honorees but left off Jay Novacek, what gives dude?

A: You’re right, I did leave him off the list. Don’t get me wrong, he did some good things in his time here and he was probably the most memorable Tight End until Jason Witten came along but was he great? Great enough to get into the Ring of Honor?  You start throwing around Novacek’s name then you have to throw around other names that were on his level , like Moose and Stepnoski, The Ring is for the greatest of the greats and truth be told, Charles Haley wouldn’t have been in my mind, let alone on my list to get in there.

Q: Do You think Jesse Holley can make this team?

A: He’s got skill on the special teams but you can’t waste a roster spot on a guy just for his special teams ability. I don’t think he has enough skill to help this team offensively. I think the better corners in the league would eat him up. So no, I don’t think he can or think he should. I personally would like the whole Jesse Holley experiment to finally be over.

Q: What is the biggest surprise for you so far?

A: I don’t think I’m alone in this when I say Bill Nagy is surprising EVERYONE. Word came out that he will get the start against the Vikings so this the final look we'll have of Nagy integrated with the first team. Nagy started only three games his first three years on Wisconsin's roster, but in 2010, Nagy would start eight of Wisconsin's thirteen games and played in every single game. Now, he’s competing and probably going to land the starting job  as a guard for the Dallas Cowboys. In second place would be Jason Garrett. He just seems like the type of guy that was born to be a coach. I never got that when he was holding the clipboard for Troy Aikman but he's certainly gotten my attention between what he did when he took over for Wade "Mr. Good Humor Man" Philips and how he's carried himself so far this year.

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Written by Darren | 25 August 2011

The Cowboys have locked up Orlando Scandrick with a 5-year extension worth $5 million a year. It's an extension on his current deal that will essentially make it a 6-year, $26 million dollar deal with $10 million guaranteed. Does this mean his is going to be a starter this season? If not this year, then one would have to believe it to happen VERY soon. Newman is signed through the 2014 season but his name came up often when the Cowboys were dumping salaries to make cap space and Jenkins is signed through next season.

Signing Scandrick I think is a pretty smart move. He's a decent player. Guys like to dump on him but lets be honest, the role he plays on the team is a very difficult one to play. Scandrick found his niche in the nickel package, covering the slot receiver. The challenge with his position is all the adjustments that have to be made within the defense depending on what they expect the offense to do. He's decent at what he does and he's only 24!!

You'd have to figure that Newman is probably going to be the guy that loses out here and that Scandrick and Jenkins will be a pair we see for quite a few years.

Congrats on your deal Orlando, now get out there and earn it!!

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Written by Darren | 23 August 2011

We've put two pre-season games into the book and have 2 more to finish before we get to the Sunday night opener against the Jets on Sept. 11th. Here's my look, based off the two weeks of preseason, as to what I think the 53 man roster will look like the night we visit the Jets.

Tony Romo
Jon Kitna
Stephen McGee

No surpises here. I think this is what everyone is thinking for the QB's. I'd like to see Kitna get a little more work in the pre-season because McGee just isn't at the point where he could be the #2.

Felix Jones
DeMarco Murray
Phillip Tanner
Lonyae Miller

I think Phillip Tanner will find a way into this lineup. He's certainly making this a tough decision on the coaching staff. By putting Tanner in, I wasn't sure if it was going to be Lonyae Miller or Tashard Choice that get bumped but based on Miller's special teams work and the fact the Chocie didn't get much time last season once Garrett came in, I think Choice goes. Hopefully Murray gets healthy soon. Would love to see what he has.

Chris Gronkowski

I think this is Gronkowski's spot although Chapas has a good showing against the Chargers. Lets hope Gronkowski is a little better at picking up the blitz this season.

Jason Witten
Martellus Bennett
John Phillips

Witten is the man, we all know that. Bennett led the Cowboys with three catches for 33 yards, but he had a big drop of what would have been a touchdown. Phillips can play fullback so he's here to stay.

Miles Austin
Dez Bryant
Kevin Ogletree
Dwayne Harris
Raymond Radway

I would love to see Ogletree become a little more consistent but he did fine filling in as a starter for Austin. Harris didn't get anything Sunday but had a good game against Denver. The final spot might go to Manny Johnson or Radway, its a close race. Hopefully Jesse Holley doesn't sneak his way into the roster.

Doug Free
David Arkin
Andre Gurode
Kyle Kosier
Tyron Smith
Phil Costa
Sam Young
Montrae Holland
Bill Nagy
Jermey Parnell

No surprises in this group. Maybe we'll see Phil Costa get a chance this week.

Marcus Spears
Jay Ratliff
Kenyon Coleman
Jason Hatcher
Josh Brent
Sean Lissemore

Igor Olshansky goes. It's that simple!!

Bradie James
Keith Brooking
Sean Lee
Kenwin Cummings
DeMarcus Ware
Anthony Spencer
Victor Butler
Alex Albright

Can Brandon Williams squeeze Alex Albright off the list?

Terence Newman
Mike Jenkins
Orlando Scandrick
Josh Thomas
Alan Ball
Bryan McCann

I think this is right, just worried about the injury to Jenkins but that doesn't mean he won't be there week 1. 

Abram Elam
Gerald Sensabaugh
Barry Church
Danny McCray

I like what Elam and Church showed on Sunday night.

Mat McBriar
Dan Bailey
L.P. Ladouceur

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Written by Darren | 22 August 2011

The Cowboys lost to the Chargers last night but its preseason so you have to look beyond the score and look at how the team is doing the little things. Here are some of the thoughts I had during last nights game.

* Felix Jones looks good. I did cringe everytime he took a big hit because he's the man now and I'm still not sure if his body is going to handle that kind of workload. Last season, Jones had 185 carries and Barber  had 116 so one has to wonder if Jones is going to carry 300 times this season? Does he have that kind of durability?

* Romo also looked good. He did throw a pick early and I just don't think he ever really saw the guy there. Seemed that his favorite targets were Witten, of course and Dez Bryant.

* I think the O-line looked good last night. Tyron Smith can definately move and having an O-line thats more athletic vs just big and hard to move is a change for this team, a good change. Felix Jones did a great job picking up a blitz last night, which kept Romo from getting creamed.

* First team Defense started off well atarting the game with a 3 and out.  The next series San Diego moved all the way down to goal to go, then got a coverage sack and a forced fumble on consecutive plays and got held to 3. I'd like to see the staring Corners out there to get a real picture of the Rob Ryan scheme. One has to ask, how much of a stinger does Mike Jenkins have? Doesn't it become something else at this point?

* Philip Tanner, wow who is this guy? He's just very explosive and doesn't seem to care about whether or not his helmet is on. New rule this year blows the play dead if the ball carrier's helmet comes off but he didn't care, he just kept going and you have to believe the defense didn't stop playing either.  I think Tanner will make the team and if he does half of what he did last night, he'll be a great addition back there. Of course we all want to see DeMarco Murray but he's been injured since the beginning.

If Murray gets healthy and Tanner makes the team, you have to wonder what the future holds for Choice.

* Wasn't very impressed with Kitna, so please Tony, stay healthy.

* Stephen McGee I thought looked better last week. He was more willing to stand in the pocket last night vs the running around that he did against the Broncos last week but I thought despite that, he played better against the Broncos. The final drive, 1st and goal was a terrible series of downs for McGee ended by him bailing out of the pocket, which you just don't do.

* Speaking of the bailing out, the Cowboys weren't winning the game, even if they scored a TD there so if there is such a battle going on to find our place kicker, why not let one of them kick the FG instead. That's what preseason is for. Yes, regular season you go for the TD to try and setup an onsides kick but not in preseason when you have 2 kickers trying for 1 job.

* New Kickoff Rule sucks. It's not going to change but its become school yard football. Team scores, other teams gets the ball on the 20.

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Written by Darren | 19 August 2011

The Dallas Cowboys are back to inducting former members into the “Ring of Honor.” There are certainly are plenty of deserving candidates but this year we will see Drew Pearson, Charles Haley and Larry Allen join the exclusive club.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the Ring of Honor selection committee is a one man committee consisting of Jerry Jones and only Jerry Jones.  Jones did mention that he listens to input from all sorts of different people, including the media so here is my 2 cents on future Ring of Honor inductees.

Jimmy Johnson – Yes, the Jimmy/Jerry Show didn’t have a very good ending but he created a dynasty that went 25-7 during his tenure and captured 2 Super Bowls (and arguably handed Barry Switzer a championship in ’96).

Nate Newton – 3 Rings, 6 Pro Bowls and opened semi-truck sized holes for Emmitt Smith to run through. If you put Larry Allen into the ring, Nate has to be there as Larry has always credited Nate Newton as his role model.

Too Tall Jones - Jones is third in franchise history with 106 sacks and was a three-time Pro Bowler, who compiled 13 sacks in 1985. He, along with Pearson, remains one of the more popular Cowboys even in retirement.

Harvey Martin – If you put Too Tall in the Ring, then Martin HAS to go in.  Harvey is the franchise leader in sacks with 114. Martin set a single-season record with 23 sacks in 1977 and was named Associated Press' NFL Defensive Player of the Year and the Super Bowl Co-MVP in that same year.

Let us know who you would put it if Jerry asked for your input.

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Written by Darren | 18 August 2011

I figured that this was as good a time as any to look at the upcoming 2011/2012 Schedule for the Dallas Cowboys. Thankfully, it appears that their schedule is a little easier this season than it was last season but the month of December, like every year is a doozy.

SUN, SEP 11 @ NY JETS (NBC) - You have to be a little fearful of the Jets because they've made it to 2 straight AFC Championship games and barely lost last season. They've certainly added some good players during the free agency and look like a team ready to go back to the AFC Championship. If there is a negative to the Jets for me, it’s that I am not high on Sanchez. The Jets barely beat Rob Ryan's defense in Cleveland last year and let’s hope Rob is ready to have his D put the hurt on Rex's team. It's a tough way to start the season because depending on what they do in preseason, a loss in week 1 could start the talk of it being 2010 all over again.

SUN, SEP 18 @ SF (FOX) - San Fran is not a team that scares me one bit. Jim Harbaugh is a good coach but he doesn't have great tools to work with. The Niners are lost at the QB position and their offensive line isn't very good. Dallas to NY to SF is a tough travel schedule to begin the season but I really don't see the Cowboys losing this game.

MON, SEP 26 WAS (ESPN) - The old Cowboys/Skins rival but the Skins are a team in shambles and should be the team in the basement of the NFC East. I'm still not sure why they shipped McNabb out of town without a good alternative at QB but the only thing I can figure is that Mike Shanahan is hoping to lose enough games this season to be in the position to draft a franchise quarterback in the first round of next year's draft.

SUN, OCT 2 DET (FOX) - The Lions could turn some heads this year but they need a healthy QB to do it. The problem for the Lions is that they play in a very good division and their schedule is brutal. This game is week 4 and this will be the Lions 3rd road game already. I think the Dallas offensive is better than the Lions defense and for that reason, Dallas wins this game.

SUN, OCT 9 BYE - Like last season, this comes WAY too early...

SUN, OCT 16 @ NE (FOX) - The Cowboys are 16-5 in games following the bye but this is a game against the Patriots in Foxboro. Yeah, I'm not hopeful that this game is going to go well at all unless it magically becomes 2008 and Brady is nowhere to be found.

SUN, OCT 23 STL (FOX) - If you have a coach that I like and a QB that I like, generally I am going to say good things about that team. The Giants D hasn't been the same since Spagnuolo left and eventually the Rams D will be what the Giants D was. I expect them to be the team to win the NFC West and win some big games along the way.

SUN, OCT 30 @ PHI (NBC) – I am looking forward to this game. I don't know what to think about the Eagles. Their roster is crammed full of big names but that doesn't always payout in the end. Everyone seems to be picking them to win the NFC East and have a decent shot at getting to Indianapolis in February. Vick will be good, always a running threat. They have great receivers but their running game (other than Vick) doesn't have me thinking wow. They do have a decent secondary though. It should be a great game.

SUN, NOV 6 SEA (FOX) - Sidney Rice, Zach Miller give Seattle needed weapons in passing game but I've never been a fan of Tavaris Jackson and I am still not. The NFC West on a whole is a tough division to predict because none of the teams there particularly thrill me. I mean after it was this division and this organization that sent a team with a losing record to the playoffs last year. If this game were in Seattle, I might consider thinking the Cowboys would lose this game but its not and they won't.

SUN, NOV 13 BUF (CBS) - I don't see the Buffalo Bills as a much improved team from the 2010 version. They don't strike me as a threat on either side of the ball. They were horrible against the run last season Felix Jones should be in a decent groove by this point in the season and could have a big game this week.

SUN, NOV 20 @ WAS (FOX) - I expect the Cowboys to win both games against the Redskins this year. Anything less will be extremely disappointing.

THU, NOV 24 MIA (CBS) - Right now, it looks as if Chad Henne will be the man in charge of getting the Dolphins into the end zone. Sure, he'll have weapons like Reggie Bush and Brandon Marshall to help them but the Dolphins don't do anything for me. In their Division, they won't be as bad as the Bills but won't put any pressure on the Patriots and the Jets. The Cowboys are 27-15-1 on Thanksgiving Day, coming off a close loss to the New Orleans Saints last season. We all remember the last time the Dolphins came to Dallas on Thanksgiving and that's NOT going to happen again.

SUN, DEC 4 @ ARI (FOX) - The Cardinals made some nice pickups during the offseason but this was a team that was horrible in every category last season. The question mark for me is what will Kevin Kolb bring to this team? Can he and Fitzgerald ignite the offense like Fitzgerald and Warner once did. Arizona plays in a winnable division and this game is late in the season where wins may be critical. Arizona, if the Kolb/Fitzy show is a hot ticket just might beat the Cowboys.

SUN, DEC 11 NY GIANTS (NBC) - I'm shocked that the Fantasy projections for Eli are 4000+ yards, 27 TDS and 17 picks. I'm not a fan of his, that's obvious and I won't argue against the 4000+ yards or even the TD's, its that last stat. Eli throws picks..PERIOD. He can't help himself. The Giants are an ok team for me. Not great, not going to win the East and likely to miss the playoffs for the 2nd straight year. Dallas has more offensive power than NY, its just the O-line you question in Dallas. When it comes to Dallas / Giants games, they are always thrilling. I say Dallas and NY split this season, both winning their home game.

SAT, DEC 17 @ TB (NFLN) - Tampa Bay has a really good team this year. Josh Freeman is the man and the Bucs turned a lot of heads last season and I only expect them to get better this season. Dallas typically does well on the Saturday Night NFL Network game and this game should be a battle. It could be a very important game for the Cowboys to win but TB will be a very tough opponent.

SAT, DEC 24 PHI (FOX) - I expect Philly to sit at #1 in the NFC East this season. I expect Dallas to be sitting in the #2 spot. A GREAT Christmas present would be Dallas challenging the Eagles for the top spot in the NFC East.

SUN, JAN 1 @ NY GIANTS (FOX) - I said before that Dallas and NY should split the season, both winning at home. I just pray that I am right about NY missing the playoffs and this game isn't for a Wildcard spot in the NFC.

So there you have it. I put the Cowboys at a 10-6 record this season and depending how Philadelphia's chemistry is with all their big names, they could challenge Philly for the division. The Cowboys should at least get into the playoffs with the Wildcard.

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Written by Darren | 17 August 2011

Rewind to a year ago and the expectations for the Dallas Cowboys were extremely high. In a quick summary, Romo got smoked on a Monday night and didn't return for the rest of the season, Wade Philips was a joke and the team choked away the first half of the season. Enter Jason Garrett as the interim head coach and all of the sudden, the Dallas Cowboys were playing with some confidence, not quite the swagger we expect in Big D but confidence. While no one is really talking about Super Bowl expectations in Dallas this season, here are 5 reasons why I am excited for the 2011 Dallas Cowboys.

1. Jason Garrett IS the right man for the job. A year ago, I was jumping up and down that Wade Philips was once again, the wrong man to be in charge. Yes, he won a playoff game the previous year but Philips just never impressed me. I don't like coaches that would rather be friends with his team instead of being a hard ass. Garrett reminds me of the type of coach we had in Tom Landry and in Jimmy Johnson. Garrett holds the player’s accountable, period. There are clocks in the meeting rooms to ensure punctuality and we all remember his dress code rules from last season. Player hazing isn't being tolerated by Garret and his staff and the rookies and undrafted free agents have to earn the Star decal on their helmet. Practices appear to operate at a game-like tempo and Garrett took it a step further by having officials at practice to call penalties and infractions.

2. The Tony Romo Redemption Campaign - I still have nightmares of Michael Boley having a clear shot at Romo and planting him in the turf which ended Romo's season last year. Reports have Romo looking poised and confident in practice this season and showing that he has complete command of the Cowboys’ offense. With weapons like Austin, Bryant and Witten, he certainly is projected to put up large numbers. Fantasy projections have him throwing for over 4300 yards with 26 TD's.

3. The Dez Bryant Show - This guy is electrifying. He reminds me a bit of Larry Fitzgerald with his ability to come away with a ball just thrown up in his direction. The fact is, most teams won't be able to use double coverage in order to stop Bryant because Austin and Witten are also big threats which mean that Bryant could have a huge year. I don't think anyone will be surprised when Bryant ends the season as the Cowboys #1 receiver.

4. The O-line isn't as bad as people think. The Cowboys O-line last year was offensive and required a lot of changes this season. The trio of Tyron Smith, David Arkin and Phil Costa look like viable contributors. Sure Smith is a rookie and has a lot to learn but once he understands pass protection, his natural abilities will allow him to really thrive. Arkin has great movement and Costa gives the line much needed depth. Romo never looked comfortable last season in the pocket because he never got the time he needed but with these guys on the line, I think this year it will be a completely different story.

5. The Rob Ryan Show - Rob isn't much different than his father (Buddy) and his brother (Rex). His defense speaks for itself and he brings a swagger and confidence to the field. That's good because the Cowboys were serious under achievers last season on defense, allowing 27.3 points per game. Is his resume outstanding?  Absolutely not.  The production of his NFL teams has been mediocre at best but in 2011 he will be a part of something he hasn’t had in the NFL:  A talented defense and a good offense that can move the ball and run the clock. Demarcus Ware, arguably the best defensive player in the NFL, Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratcliff should benefit from Ryan's blitzing schemes. Mike Jenkins did horrible the zone coverage scheme that Philips had going on and Ryan should allow Jenkins to play more bump and run coverage. I do worry about the secondary as I think they are the weak link in the defense but if Ryan gets the pressure he wants from the blitzing schemes, the secondary should look much better.

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