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Drew-ing Up A Plan Columnist 
Feb. 24, 2004, 5:34 p.m. (CST)   

the past three NFL seasons (48). 

But again, signing Bledsoe is not the end all. Come March 2, the Cowboys better get to work. They better make wise decisions. No more Wiley's. 

First of all, if they have any hope of Bledsoe being effective, they had better fix the right side of that offensive line. And in free agency. Don't be telling me about Torrin Tucker and Kurt Vollers and Jacob Rogers in July. And all those right guard eggs should not be placed in Andre Gurode's or even Stephen Peterman's baskets. Go get one. 

Then there is wide receiver. Need another. Keyshawn and Terry Glenn are just fine. Who knows about Quincy Morgan. But the Cowboys need them a Derrick Mason or Plaxico Burress or Laveranues Coles, although I'm sure the Redskins would never let him escape to Dallas. They need a 1992 version of Michael Irvin. 

Solidify those three positions, and this offense, with a healthy Julius Jones, and Dan Campbell to complement Jason Witten, will be potent enough to average more than 18.4 points a game - that modest 2000 average the highest in the past five seasons. 

Oh, yeah, it helps if you're not giving up 25.3 points a game, too, as the Cowboys did last year. Ask Bledsoe. His defense gave up just 17.7 points a game last year, the Bills holding 11 of 16 opponents to no more than 17 points. 

So roll up those free-agent sleeves. Don't stop now. 

"In the system we're in, in the NFL today, one of the encouraging aspects of it from our standpoint is that teams that didn't do very well in one year can turn around and really compete and contend the next year," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. "That has impacted my philosophy, my plan and our organization's plan as to how to build a contending team with the Dallas Cowboys. 

"(Signing Bledsoe) is an effort, this combined with the other things we're going to do in free agency, this is an effort to put us in a position to compete and contend certainly more than we did last year. . . . I had the opportunity to visit with Drew yesterday before he came in, and we share one thing in common, and that is we want to immediately compete, we want to immediately contend. And we all know the advantage you've got if you've got an experienced quarterback, you've got one with a lot of talent, you let a few others things fall right for you, and you have a good chance to be a contender." 

Well, let the building continue so this bridge doesn't collapse.   


!   The defensive free-agent needs are many, but mostly safety and cornerback. A starting-quality safety for sure, and be nice to find a four- or five-year corner on the rise to compete with those youngsters. And while were at it, how about a tad more beef in the middle of that line, a bigger linebacker and, slap my mouth, a pass-rushing defensive end . . . again. 
!   The Cowboys, who will have a third different season-opening starting quarterback in three years, have then officially joined the NFL quarterback carousel. Did you realize that of the 32 opening-day starting quarterbacks last year, only 17 were with their original team. Also, 12 of them were at least 30 years old (Jake Plummer turned 30 during the season). So of those eventual 13 Thirtysomethings, only Steve McNair and Brett Favre (he spent just that one season in Atlanta) weren't considered retreads. 
!   Thought this was an interesting statement by Bledsoe, talking about becoming the starter this year: "Listen, I think that coming into this situation, first of all, yes, Bill did say he wants (me) to come down here and to be the starter, I anticipate that being the case, and anticipate that being the case not just for one year. But with that being said, I know, and every player in this organization knows, we go into training camp and there is a better option, he's going to do it. . . . it's very cut and dried."      

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