up," Phillips said, knowing his Cowboys (3-0) were one of just two undefeated teams left in the NFC - the Giants the other.
Precisely, and for a welcomed change, the Cowboys have the personnel to pull this off. Terence Newman and Anthony Henry are healthy. Then the Cowboys can come in with Pacman Jones as the third corner, and that's like bringing in another starter, which he would be if he were on another team. After that, the Cowboys can choose from rapidly improving first-round pick Mike Jenkins and fifth-round Orlando Scandrick - the absolute deepest the Cowboys have been at cornerback since . . . since . . . I can't remember when.
Sure like it.
Just a guess, but the more success the Cowboys have playing this alignment, the less likely teams will be willing to go to three wides, unless of course that is their base offense. And for so many years this decade, going three wide against the Cowboys almost was standard procedure because of their glaring dearth of cornerbacks. They'd have the Cowboys coming and going, run or pass.
Not so much these days.
Then, on top of that when the Cowboys do choose to go with their dime defense, that is Pacman and Jenkins coming in on the outside with Newman and Henry moving into the slot and Kevin Burnett taking over as the sole linebacker. And, if you were paying close attention, when the pass-desperate Packers went four wide facing third-and-a-lot, the Cowboys would come in with their "Cowboy" defense, rushing only three, with six defensive backs and linebackers Burnett and Bobby Carpenter on the field.
Sure, when the dust settled, it says Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 22 of 39 passes for 290 yards, and after three games the Cowboys are just one of five teams without an interception. But until the Cowboys went soft when up 27-9 during the Packers lone touchdown drive in the final minutes, Rodgers had looked exactly like what he is - a first-year starting quarterback. I mean come on, check this out: Rodgers completed 12 of his 22 passes in the final 5:34.
In fact, Rodgers only had two second-half completions to that point, one of those, of course, was the 50-yarder to Donald Driver, setting up Mason Crosby's third field goal. And for the record, Phillips says even though that was Pacman in desperate chase, the Cowboys were playing a cover two, meaning his responsibility was underneath not running deep with Driver.
"I thought he had a good game," Phillips said of Pacman. "He's a tough little guy now."
He thought Newman improved. He thought Jenkins improved. And Henry, come on, the Cowboys unveiled yet another defensive dimension, asking him to blitz off the tight end slot just to keep offenses honest with how many guys they send out against the Cowboys dime package (six DBs).
Man, this sure looks a lot different than last year when the Cowboys were coming in with Jacques Reeves and Nate Jones on their sub-packages, and because of that maybe another reason why Phillips and defensive coordinator Brian Stewart were hesitant to even go to that dime package against three-receiver sets, preferring to keep their best players on the field, no matter what.
Personnel allows you to develop a philosophy, one way or another, and tell you what, sign me up as a defensive disciple of Phillips.
That Kool-Aid of his appears drinkable.