Better D In Big D

unequivocally running the defense now that Brian Stewart no longer is here as the go-between and no one was hired to replace him. How well Phillips does on defense might decide how long he remains as head coach.

The Cowboys also should become more stable, if not more versatile - i.e. better - at strong safety now that Gerald Sensabaugh is projected to replace Roy Williams, who last year was replaced when injured by Keith Davis. Look at it this way: Williams had a hard time finding a free-agent job after getting released by the Cowboys, and Davis, who started nine games last year, lasted less than two months in Oakland after finally signing a free-agent deal never offered by the Cowboys. And to think Williams and Davis were the strong safety starters here, neither running as well as Sensabaugh.

The addition of either Mike Jenkins or Orlando Scandrick to the starting lineup at right corner should further bring stability to a position of concern last year, the Cowboys volleying back and forth between aging Anthony Henry, troubled Pacman Jones and an injured Terence Newman, who now is healthy again at last. This is where Jones sees the speed increase for sure, changing out Henry in the starting lineup for one of the two second-year corners.

Then add what DeMarcus Ware brings, the starting potential of Anthony Spencer (again more speed), Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff, defensive end Marcus Spears in a contract-drive season and the versatility of Bradie James, the Cowboys could become dominant on this side of the ball. Or at least erase those 44-point and 33-point and 35-point and 34-point and 30-point and 37-point games opponents produced last year, the Cowboys losing all but one of them.

So if it's an available margin for improvement you are looking for this year, for just where the Cowboys will get better this year, put a big fat circle around the defense.

That's the answer.

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