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Mailbag: What Young Players Could Be Future Replacements?
Bryan: The intention of drafting players is that if they are better than the players you currently have on the squad, there is always that option to make that happen. With the salary cap in play you always have to consider is there a savings by making the move or does the move require you to bite the bullet on the contract and move on. All those players that you have listed will have the opportunity to step up as a replacement. The replacement of Spencer appears to be the most likely one because of no long term deal in place. What you also have to look at is which of these players will most likely receive the most playing time. I think you will see plenty of Williams in three wide packages and Crawford will be in the mix at defensive end. I am not sure how much you will see Webb, maybe in the Dime and the reason I mention this is because of the evaluation for the position.
David: The most realistic of those three scenarios, I think, would be Crawford, Kyle Wilber and perhaps a 2014 draft pick combining to replace Spencer next season. It seems pretty unlikely the defensive end will be back in Dallas if he has another big season in 2013. I’m pretty reluctant to put expectations like that on either Webb or Williams. Namely, because we haven’t seen either one of them play a real NFL snap. Secondly and (more importantly), Scandrick and Austin are under contract for the foreseeable future, with both of their deals running through the 2016 season. Barring something unforeseen, I imagine they’ll both be big roleplayers for the Cowboys beyond 2013.
Last year the defense had some not so great games early when most were healthy. Do you think the scheme change will make that much difference with basically the same personnel?
Bryan: This is just me but I had more of an issue of the way that the offense played in those early games than how the defense played. The turnovers in the Seattle and Chicago games put the defense in a terrible spot. I will say that I do like the scheme change with this personnel. There are great fits across the board. Ware and Spencer at the ends will provide that up field pressure. I like Ratliff inside along with Lee, Carter on the outside will make a ton of tackles on the move. It’s the second season for Claiborne which should help. They will need Scandrick to step up in the nickel and sort out who is playing with Church at safety but there are plenty of pieces in place for this defense to step up and be outstanding.
David: I don’t think anyone’s under the illusion that this unit will become one of the best in the league just because of a scheme change – I’m not, at least. All that said, I pretty much disagree with the assessment. In the first month of the season, before the the rash of injuries really took hold, the Cowboys’ defense held its own, for the most part. In the first five games of 2012, the defense held four of its five opponents to 316 yards or less – a pretty respectable average. Even the Seahawks, who downed the Cowboys 27-7, had a relatively modest day, aided by a 2 turnover margin. And perhaps the worst game of the first five, the loss to Chicago, saw the Bears nab five interceptions. I think it’s fair to hope for similarly solid performances, assuming the defense can keep itself healthy. Read