Lost in all the bedlam surrounding QB Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys is a dirty little secret: their defense isn't very good, and hasn't been for years, particularly in the fourth quarter, after Romo and the offense have built leads, only to see them evaporate.
Yes, Virginia, the best defense in Texas is in Houston and led by former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips.
The Cowboys' December 2011 home loss to the New York Giants describes their season. Dallas held a "safe" fourth-quarter, 12-point lead with 5:41 to go after four Tony Romo touchdown passes. The defense allowed Giants' 80-yard and 53-yard scoring drives for the win, with 122 of those yards through the air.
If the Cowboys don't address their secondary, it will get worse before it gets better.
The Super Bowl champion Giants do not have the best receiver corps in the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles do. For all their struggles, the Eagles swept the Cowboys by a combined score of 54-14.
The flaw in the Eagles 2011 strategy was to expect instant results from building a "dream team" while overhauling the defense. Now, with a year to jell, the Eagles should have a monstrous 2012 season.
Dallas needs a secondary that stands up to the likes of Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson (probably), Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. They need it not only to master the Beast, but also to save QB Tony Romo so that he is not asked...so frequently... win games in the last five minutes.
That's why Dallas DC Rob Ryan said at the Senior Bowl that he was "only looking at DBs. Nothing else. DBs."
Abe Elam (S), Frank Walker (CB), Alan ball (CB) are Dallas' free agent defensive backs. Pro Football Focus ranked Elam the top safety for tackling in coverage and 13th best overall. PFF ranked Ball No. 2 in tackling efficiency among cornerbacks.
Among DBs under contract, the consensus is that Mike Jenkins (CB) and Gerald Sensabaugh (S) are keepers, while Terence Newman (CB) is not.
San Francisco's cornerback Carlos Rogers and safety Dashon Goldson will be unrestricted free agents next month. The 'Niners may not be able to retain both. If one hits the market, he is sure to draw interest from the Cowboys.
Sports writer Russ Lande projects the Cowboys to take Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick with their first round Draft pick. Drafting young talent is sound strategy, but rookies won't help soon enough against the Eagles and Giants to suit Ryan...or Jerry Jones.
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