You bet, he's that important to what goes on. So factor that in.
Then factor in a rookie making the transition from defensive end in college to a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL replacing Ellis, although Anthony Spencer got better as the game went on.
Still the disturbing trend of getting beat for big plays and offenses picking on safeties continued. How much longer must we moan since Darren Woodson retired . . . .
Now Phillips certainly did the right thing Monday morning. He had his guys' backs, refusing to assign blame. Said the little things turned into big things. Said, while trying to cover for Newman's absence, the team did not play well in zone coverage. Said his guys needed to tackle better.
But he refused to blame anyone. Not Roy Williams for still having problems in zone coverage. Not Ken Hamlin for missing the tackle on Derrick Ward's 44-yard run. And not Jacques Reeves, making only his second NFL start in his fourth season, and in fact, giving the corner a game ball for his play replacing Newman at left corner - possibly trying to instill confidence in the young guy he may need to rely on for, who knows, a couple of more weeks.
Now that the Miami Dolphins are up next might be the good news. Playing behind new starter Trent Green, the Dolphins scored all of 13 points in their season-opening 16-13 overtime loss to Washington. They totaled all of 273 yards total offense. They passed for only 207 yards. Only once in the last nine games have the Cowboys held an opponent to less than 207 yards passing, and that came at the expense of Tampa Bay rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, making just his eighth NFL start.
Hey, who knows, maybe the Giants have a really good offense. But tell you what, they left a blueprint on how to attack the Cowboys, especially without Newman in the lineup, for anyone who cares to take notice. Just go three wides against the Cowboys, just as teams did last year. Or put an agile tight end in the slot.
Why, the Cowboys led the Giants 17-6 with 3:53 to go in the first half. But the Giants, with the ball at their own 25, went to their nickel offense, going three wide for the majority of the drive that went 75 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown.
Then, with the Cowboys up 38-22 with 11:43 left in the game, the Giants again went to their nickel offense, lining up three wide receivers and forcing the Cowboys into their dime defense. Nine plays over 80 yards later, it was 38-28. And 3:11 later, after picking off Romo at the Cowboys 22, the Giants pulled to 38-35, finishing off those 22 yards in their three-receiver sets.
"We were attacking," Ware said, "but they were able to find ways to attack (us) . . . we were the ones getting bombed on."
So on one hand, Sunday night was not a good start to the 2007 season for the Cowboys defense.
On the other hand, the Cowboys' offense was explosive. But then who knows, the Giants defense might not be worth squat.
Hard to tell; it's early. Like, real early. Come on, wait until at least next week to jump to conclusions.