Numbers Game

Jason Ferguson expects the Cowboys defense to feature the 3-4 … only.

Since the end of last season, there has been widespread speculation that the Cowboys would shift from their traditional 4-3 defense to a combination of the 4-3 and the 3-4. But according to DT Jason Ferguson -- perhaps the prize of the Dallas free agent class -- the shift might be even more dramatic.

Asked about the differences in his roles in his old defense with the New York Jets and what he's being asked to do with the Cowboys, Ferguson simply said, "well, it's a whole different defense, going from the 4-3 to the 3-4." Told that head coach Bill Parcells has said the team will utilize both defensive alignments, Ferguson's expression switched to one of surprise.

"He did?" Ferguson asked. "I hadn't heard that. Everything I've heard is about the 3-4 -- only the 3-4. But if that's what he says, I'm ready."

Ferguson doesn't give the impression of a guy who has practiced just three times with his new team. Already he is among the most vocal players in the Dallas locker room, holding court with the gang of court jesters known as the defensive line.

"This is a good group, a real good group," he said. "They're always joking. You can't be quiet with a defensive line."

The ring leaders of the defensive line, Ferguson said, are DTs Leo Carson, Jermaine Brooks and La'Roi Glover. But just because he's one of the team's new faces, that doesn't mean he's still earning his place among the defensive linemen.

"They've been great. They're really accepting me, making me feel great," Ferguson said. "Part of it is that we're all learning the 3-4. We're all learning together.

"In the 4-3, we (defensively tackles) play mostly one-gap -- just get upfield and take care of one cap. To tell you the truth, I think every defensive lineman will tell you he prefers the 4-3, because it's more aggressive -- you can make more plays. In the 3-4, you have to be more patient. You have to see the play and react. But you still can make plays, and you have to make plays."

Whichever defensive alignment the Cowboys employ, Ferguson said he's eager to get the season started.

"I'm here, and I'm happy to be here," he said. "I'm ready to do whatever they need me to do."

When he was signed away from the Jets (who play the 4-3), Ferguson was touted as the prototype to play the middle of the line in the 3-4. But despite his experience, Ferguson said first-round picks Demarcus Ware and Marcus Spears have not sought his advice as they adjust to the pro game.

"They came from the 3-4," Ferguson laughed. "I need to go to them with my questions."

One person from whom Ferguson expects to hear a lot, of course, is Parcells, who drafted Ferguson for the Jets.

"He's going to be in my ear, regardless," Ferguson said. "If he's not, that's when I'll get worried. You know he's going to shoot straight with you. With him, you ain't got to worry about no curveballs."

CowboysHQ Top Stories