with six years of NFL experience who once was a first-round draft choice and handed such a lucrative contract the summer of '06 should be defensive captain material, no? Should be a prime face of the franchise, and more so than just the occasional charitable functions you are involved in, which are commendable. Young guys such as Pat Watkins and Courtney Brown should look to you for leadership.
And as for this safety business, accountability would seem to be a high priority this year. If there was a lack of "communication" last year, what was your culpability? If you didn't fit into the scheme, how hard did you work to fit in and adapt to your responsibilities?
Geesh, Phillips didn't come in here reinventing the wheel. It's football, 3-4, 4-3 and heck, 5-2, another indication of how old I am. I remember Missouri playing that scheme back in the day. They asked you to blitz quite a bit last year, but I see a 0 next to your name in sacks and only 2 next to QB pressures. I also see another 0 there for forced fumbles, sort of your trademark going back to your days at OU. You'd like to think horse-collar tackles and games suspended would not outnumber either of those two categories. (Come on now, cut me a little slack there.)
Also there is an SS next to your name. That means strong safety, and no team can play 100 percent of the snaps in single-safety high formations. Coverage is part of the job description. And we're not talking man coverage. Zone and Cover 2, you know. Knowing where you're supposed to be is vitally important, otherwise the cornerback counting on help over the top or to the inside is hung out to dry if you're not there. Preparation and recognition almost is more important than ability to cover in man.
Plus, this defense lessened your coverage responsibilities last year when moving you up to the other linebacker spot on the nickel. And on draft day during an interview Stewart even made reference to possibly employing more specialized players in the nickel.
Man, if that were me, that would hack me off, and I wouldn't be looking for a soft pillow to rest my head on. I'd be getting with it, working as hard as I could to get better instead of firing off excuses for why I wasn't. But again, that's me.
An another thing: This run support must improve. Many came to your defense when Giants receiver Plaxico Burress accused you of being an ambush tackler, simply trying to blow guys up who couldn't see you. Maybe he was on to something because last year, while you did have 115 tackles, second on the team, there were more memorable missed ones than made ones; more memorable give-ups in the face of blockers than blowing plays up.
But let me say you do have one big thing going for you this season. Dave Campo has returned, and he's not treating this as some sort of retirement job. He's fired up as ever to get coaching, and I'm told he's even paying some special attention to you with some cut-ups of plays from last year. That's good.
Plus, Campo's not afraid of communicating, if you know what I mean. Confronting players to him is no big deal. He's been doing this far too long and in far too many places for that to matter - for that to get in the way of results. Plus, being back here and working for the Cowboys means a lot to him. Lucky you. He will not be an enabler.
So come on, all you got to do is your part. Maybe changing numbers helps. But don't stop there. Accept the responsibility. We've seen you do all this stuff before, and at a Pro Bowl level. Embrace the job and your teammates, and may I suggest, the fans, too.
I mean, dude.