but it's a dimension, not the offense.
What about Greg Ellis? As things turned out last year, he ended up being the team's Mr. Indispensable, because he's the one who got hurt, not Adams, and it can be argued his absence mightily cost this team - definitely this defense - down the stretch. And if we did, we'd win the argument. Ellis' pass-rushing absence those final five games was sorely missed, teams knowing all they had to do was contend with DeMarcus Ware while willing to take their chances with the other side. But the Cowboys made a move to cover themselves there, especially if the soon-to-turn 33-year-old outside linebacker/defensive end is not what he used to be following surgery to repair his torn Achilles. That would be drafting Anthony Spencer in the first round. Pass here.
So, and unless I'm obviously forgetting someone, this gets us down to three final candidates:
The choice leaves me perplexed. The Cowboys desperately need all three. Each adds a necessary and seemingly irreplaceable dimension to the team.
Like who is throwing down 11½ sacks if Ware isn't there? Who is giving you 85 catches and 13 touchdown receptions if Owens isn't there? Who you feeling good about manning up with the other team's top receiver if Newman isn't there?
Tough, eh? How 'bout all three?
OK, that would cheapen the award, and far be it for me not to take a stand on something, right or maybe just a smidgen wrong. So here goes.
So, as hard as this might be, let's eliminate Owens. Without him, I'm figuring Glenn is capable of stepping up - not replacing Owens, since they are two different receivers, but taking on a bigger role in the offense. And I'm guessing Crayton would be capable of catching at least 60 passes in a starting role. It's just that the Cowboys would lose the scary dimension, and I'm not sure other than Glenn, anyone else could put that pre-snap fear in a defense the way Owens does. And then who becomes the third? See what I mean?
Oh well, tough, but that's my choice.
Now down to Ware and Newman. If we argue pure numbers, then Ware's the guy. Come on, 11½ sacks last year. No Cowboys player had been in double digits since Tony Tolbert's 12 sacks in 1996. Newman? He can't touch that. But one pick. Not even close.
But let's go here: Who do the Cowboys have to replace them if they are injured?
If Ware goes down, who goes in - not only at the weak-side linebacker spot, but also as a pass-rushing defensive end on the nickel? Well, the Cowboys did draft Spencer and they keep telling us Ellis will be good as new by time training camp rolls around. There's Kevin Burnett and Bobby Carpenter, both capable of playing outside linebacker. And as for defensive end on the nickel, let's not forget Jason Hatcher, Junior Glymph, Spencer and Ellis.
A committee, for sure.
Now Newman. He's gone. Who goes in? Aaron Glenn, probably. But then Glenn turns 35 on Monday. Asking him to play 60 plays a game for like 12 straight weeks might be a tad much. And if he's starting, who you like in the slot on the nickel? How you feeling about Jacques Reeves or Nate Jones? Might have to be Joey Thomas or one of those rookies, Alan Ball or Courtney Brown? Or what you say about Quincy Butler? We are turning over jobs to guys, other than Glenn, not guaranteed to make the team.
Or, if the Cowboys don't think Glenn should start at left corner, then who? Any of the guys just mentioned float your boat? And if they do, then you had better be able to spell Z-O-N-E, meaning so much for inching Williams closer to the line of scrimmage.
For some reason, I can't get away from what Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after going through the extensive interview process during his head coach search. That when picking the minds of all the defensive guys he brought in, the likes of Wade Phillips and Gary Gibbs and Ron Rivera, not to mention some of these offensive guys, too, such as Norv Turner and Jim Caldwell, Jones said the one consensus was this:
Terence Newman was the best, most valuable player on the Dallas Cowboys. They obviously looked at pure talent and what he does for a defense, not