Defensive Improvement

The defense was properly identified as the scapegoat for the Cowboys 6-10 finish in 2004.

Led by the premise that you have you chance of winning if you can't stop anybody, Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells made wholesale changes on defense. The Cowboys switched schemes from the 4-3 to the 3-4, while bringing in a host of personnel upgrades through free agency and the draft.

Free-agent additions included nose guard Jason Ferguson, cornerback Anthony Henry, cornerback Aaron Glenn and safety Izell Reese.

Signing Ferguson was key to the switch to the 3-4, as he gives them the wide body run stopper to hold down things at nose tackle.

"In the 3-4, you have to be more patient," said Ferguson. "You have to see the play and react. But you still can make plays, and you have to make plays." With Ferguson on board, Pro Bowl defensive tackle La'Roi Glover may have to move to a backup role, giving the Cowboys a one-two punch of power and quickness that should give opposing centers fits.

The next steps in the move to the 3-4 were made on draft day with linebacker/pass rusher Demarcus Ware and defensive end Marcus Spears. Parcells compared Ware to Hall of Fame Lawrence Taylor and Spears has the size to handle the end spot in the 3-4 like Richard Seymour of the Patriots.

The most significant upgrade however may be Henry at corner.

The Cowboys didn't sign a corner to replace the departed Mario Edwards last season and they were held hostage by woeful play at the position all season. He will combine with Terence Newman to give the Cowboys a strong cornerback tandem. Add in veteran Glenn, who would start for most teams team in the league, and the Cowboys could potentially have the best threesome in the NFL.

"Aaron Glenn- he's been on winning teams and has been with Coach Parcells in the past," said Henry of his new counterpart in the secondary. "Having him here just makes us that much better because he's already established a high level of success in this league."

The big question remains at free safety where the Cowboys are looking to replace the retired Darren Woodson.

Reese was signed in June to compete for the job against unproven holdovers Keith Davis and Lynn Scott.

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