Dallas was 7th in interceptions last year with 20, and 16th in sacks with 35, despite having the league's number one pass rusher of 2010, DeMarcus Ware, who had 15.5. Someone in addition to Ware must put more pressure on the opponent's quarterback if the secondary is to survive. Terence Newman, a local fan favorite, is blamed for missing assignments, and therefore causing long gains and touchdowns. But, he tied with teammate Gerald Sensabaugh for most interceptions on the team with 5. Sensabaugh, disappointed he did not draw more in his free agency year, signed a new contract earlier this week with the Cowboys. The Cowboys believe they have improved their secondary with this week's free agent signing of Abram Elam.
The name of Wade Phillips isn't spoken often in Dallas any more. He is probably glad, given the level of vitriol from the fans and talking heads during his last season and a half. Previously touted as a defensive-genius-not-a-head-coach, Jerry Jones replaced him at midseason last year with Troy Aikman's clipboard handler, Jason Garrett. It was a good move, most believe (myself included).
At season's end, Garrett named Rob Ryan as his defensive coordinator. A far cry from Wade Phillips, Ryan has his own reputation, the likes of which has never coached football in Texas, at least above the high school level. He is a character, one who will bring the fans back to the defensive side of the ball in a positive way.
Garrett himself is in his proving year. The fans are on his side. The media spewers are giving him a grace period, too. This could be a good sign, especially when Troy Aikman says Garrett is the right guy for the job. 'Nuff said in Cowboy country.
Reports are that "Camp Cupcake"* is a thing of the past. With the exit of Wade "Aw-shucks"* Phillips, there are no more practices with players in visors, sunglasses, and flip-flops. The preseason games will not be the first time they'll hit each other this year. Bets are on that the team will not be living on the laurels of the 1990s era any longer.
With Garrett and Ryan, a true test of the theory that coaching really matters will be played out on the gridiron. It was a long time ago when Jerry Jones implied coaching wasn't all that important, thus the exit of Jimmy "The Jimster"* Johnson. Maybe, he's learned something. Fans hope so.