I had a funny conversation last weekend with a friend of mine who lives in Ft. Worth, Texas. He’s a huge Cowboys fan, which probably goes without saying.
Billy was still upset about the the Cowboys' season ending loss to the New York Giants and in his emotional state he was failing to see the forest through the trees.
He must have uttered the phrase “Newman sucks” about a dozen times before I had just had enough.
Now Billy is no football idiot, as most Cowboys fans in Dallas / Ft. Worth are not. People there go back to Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, Herschel Walker, Troy Aikman and so forth. They’ve seen the ups and the downs and, more often than not, know why either is taking place.
In other words, they care a whole lot in “Big D” and when someone cares a whole lot they generally know a lot.
This is why it surprised me to here Billy carrying on about this Terence Newman garbage while completely ignoring a much more crippling issue for the Dallas Cowboys.
The average fan watching football on television only watches where the ball is. They have no real idea what’s happening in the trenches. They see the quarterback drop back, either hand off or throw and they never really see who is making an impact at the line of scrimmage.
In other words, they see the beginning and the ending of the play.
Now, we’ve all been that kind of football viewer before. I know I was until players like Charles Haley, Erik Williams and Larry Allen arrived.
Let me be clear on this: I’m not stating that an upgrade over Newman is not appropriate. But I hardly believe that Newman, himself, is the reason the Cowboys did not make the playoffs or were not a contender in 2011.
The Cowboys do not need to reach for Newman's replacement in the first round the way they did with Shante Carver in 1994 while trying to gear up for life without Haley, which wasn't quite there yet.
Let me throw out a couple of names.
Hear me out on this.
Woodson and Bailey were drafted in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Woodson was the fourth selection in his draft and Bailey the seventh in his. Both were the top corners selected.
By comparison, Newman was chosen fifth in 2003 and was also the first corner off the board.
Woodson, the oldest of these three pure cornerbacks picked off seven passes in 2011. Bailey, same age as Newman but with more NFL experience, picked off two.
What’s the difference?
Well, one plays with the defending Super Bowl champions who are still the best team in the NFL. The other is simply renting a spot in the playoffs with a certain eviction notice to be served during the divisional round of the playoffs in New England this weekend.
Yes, the Packers are way, way better than Denver.
I get that Newman isn’t at the same level he was some three years ago and prior. But neither is Woodson or Bailey. But it’s important to keep this whole thing in perspective. I’ll also add that Newman led the Cowboys defense in picks with four – nothing to write home about but still productive.
Do you really think that Newman would not have had more picks if the pass rush up front consisted of more than just DeMarcus Ware? Newman had a pretty good start in 2011 but obviously faded – right along with the entire Cowboys team.
I hear the names Alfonzo Dennard, Janoris Jenkins and Stephon Gilmore as "must haves" for the Cowboys in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. All of this is based not on the fact the either of these guys would guarantee any upgrade over Terence Newman whatsoever – at least not immediately. Rather, it's based on the perception that Newman can't play anymore which is simply not true.
And no, corners are not paid to tackle or cover fullbacks who took a pass wide open in the flat. Would you ask an antelope to take down a buffalo?
Now, it might be one thing if Morris Claiborne or Dre Kirkpatrick fell to the Cowboys at the 14th selection in April but we all know that neither of those guys are falling that far. Choosing a second tier cornerback while ignoring things like protecting your franchise quarterback and beating up the opposition's quarterback just isn’t smart.
Yes, the Cowboys need to bring in more defensive backs and I have no doubt they will. But this does not mean that Newman necessarily needs to go, which he very well might.
But do not be surprised if he does not.
Keep in mind that there is a formula for producing a lot of interceptions for any defense. The two primary ingredients are lots of points scored by the offense and heavy pass pressure by the defense.
The Cowboys do not generate that formula very often. They really only did so once in 2011 against Buffalo.
If Dallas can produce that formula much more often then you might be surprised by what the “ancient” Terence Newman can still do.