Stewart Talks Attitude; Defense

The following description of a style of defensive football is not for the queasy. The question is, is an attitudinal style of defensive football for the Cowboys? Defensive coordinator Brian Stewart checks with The Ranch Report.

"In San Diego, those guys have some s--- in their neck,'' Dallas defensive coordinator Brian Stewart, the former Chargers assistant, tells "Know what I mean? They wanted to talk trash all the time. They were trying to hurt you. They were reckless. Shawne Merriman wanted to knock people's heads off. He'd day, ‘If that SOB (Jake) Plummer tries to run, I'm gonna. …''

What Stewart is still trying to find out with the Cowboys at training camp is how many trash-talkers, SOB-haters and "s---necks'' he has in his employ. Oh, he knows he's got good football players; he believes that DeMarcus Ware is going to be a superstar. He believes that Roy Williams can be put in position to live up to his rep. He believes Terence Newman is an elite talent. He thinks he and head coach Wade Phillips are overseeing a unit with a terrific amount of depth. And every day, he sees something new he likes from rookies ranging in from first-round pass-rusher Anthony Spencer to seventh-round corners Alan Ball and Courtney Brown.

He really does believe this can be "the best defense in the NFL.'' (And notice how, despite having been browbeaten after the headline-stealing comment, he hasn't exactly backed down.)

What he does not know is how much ‘tude it'll take to achieve all of the goals.

"That attitude thing?'' Stewart says. "It helps on the field. You don't have to be like that as a person, though. John Lynch hits you, but he helps you up. Ronnie Lott, he was all business. Our guys seem more like that. They're good people.

"So maybe our guys don't have s--- in their necks. Demarcus isn't like that. Demarcus isn't going to bother talking trash. I know that about him. Maybe it'll take until we play some (preseason) games to know what we need to know about some other guys.''

And is that OK? Especially in the present atmosphere in the NFL – where some of the baddest dudes on the field are also landing in the commissioner's office, in courtrooms and in jails because they are also "bad'' away from the field – can you flip a switch?

"That's the question, for all of us in football,'' Stewart says. "Even though you don't live your life talking trash, what happens once the game starts? Do these players have a button they push? Do I have to push a button to get them to be reckless?''

Stewart himself is a guy who can flip his own switch – and is maybe just a little reckless. We saw that this week at camp, when a drill he put the defensive linemen through resulted in a hamstring injury to Jason Hatcher. Owner Jerry Jones expressed his displeasure. … and Stewart politely fell short of backing down again.

The newbie D-coordinator standing up to the powerful owner? We don't know it about his defensive personal yet, but we know this: Brian Stewart – as pleasant a fellow as he is – has "some s--- in his neck.''

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