Mar 062013

Gerald-SensabaughYour Dallas Cowboys have released safety Gerald Sensabaugh in a salary cap-clearing move. They subsequently slapped the franchise tag on outside linebacker and soon-to-be defensive end Anthony Spencer.

Keeping Spencer, who is coming off a stellar 2012 campaign, may prove to be a good move. But creating a bigger void at the the team’s most chronically troubling position may not.

Dallas Cowboys beat writer and ESPN columnist Todd Archer made some excellent observations regarding your hometown heroes and their struggles to find a safety net for the not-so-Doomsday Defense:

Another reason why the move is risky is that the Cowboys have not been able to find a long-term safety since Darren Woodson.

And everybody believes the Cowboys struggle to identify quality offensive linemen?

Roy Williams had a good run for a few years but then tailed off badly. Ken Hamlin had one good season with the Cowboys, signed a big contract and then didn’t seem to like playing much again. Keith Davis was a special teamer turned starter out of necessity. At the prices the Cowboys paid Sensabaugh, I think they did OK with him for four years. Abram Elamlasted one season as a starter, which is better than Brodney Pool, who didn’t last a week in training camp.

(UPDATE: The original version forgot Lynn Scott, an undrafted player in 2001 that the Cowboys had hopes for early.)

Since 2001, the Cowboys have drafted nine safeties and the best has been Williams, and he was the eighth overall pick in 2002. People will remind you that Ed Reed is a Hall of Famer and went later to Baltimore. Tony Dixon (second, 2001) never panned out. Justin Beriault (sixth, 2006) was hurt and never played.

Pat Watkins (fifth, 2006) was tall and an OK special teamer. Alan Ball (seventh, 2007) was drafted as a corner, became a forgettable starter at safety and moved back to cornerback.Mike Hamlin and DeAngelo Smith were fifth-rounders in the forgettable 2009 draft and didn’t make an impact. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (fourth, 2010) was hurt when drafted, came from a small school and made switch from corner to safety – and never made an impact.

Barry Church and Danny McCray were undrafted players in 2010 that have made an impact. But Church, as close to an incumbent the Cowboys have at the position, is coming off an Achilles tear, and McCray showed he’s a special-teamer with the more work he got on defense last season.

Matt Johnson was a fourth-round pick last year and never played a snap because of recurring hamstring injuries. Judgment should be withheld until he actually gets on the field, but let’s just say history is not on his side.

There is not a word of untruth in Archer’s column. The Cowboys under Jerry Jones and without either Jimmy Johnson or Bill Parcells have been deplorable at evaluating and securing talent, especially at the safety position.

Sensabaugh did the best job of bringing consistency to that position since the early version of Roy Williams. Moreover, he brought class and grace to the organization, as witnessed in his farewell tweet.


The Cowboys have not had a longterm solution at safety since the retirement of the great Darren Woodson. There has been the revolving door Archer outlined in the above article. Still, I remain marginally confident and unmoved by the release.


Because of the septuagenarian leading the defense into the light of a new era (which is actually a return to an old era.)

I believe in Monte Kiffin. I believe in his ability to identify the kind of talent it takes to run his Tampa 2 system. I believe he is a football man Cowboys fans can believe in. Unlike others (Jerry Jones) who shall not remain unnamed.

Truthfully, I flinched the day I learned Bill Parcells would change the Cowboys’ defensive scheme to the 3-4 he loved so well. But I bit my tongue and held my peace, because Parcells was saddled with cleaning up the mess caused by Jerry Jones’ maniacal insistence on puppet-coaching America’s Team into an under-talented, over-matched, quivering mess. Three consecutive 5-11 seasons, coupled with the threat of fan mutiny and the loss of Cowboys’ luster, forced the hardheaded fool’s hand.

But the 3-4 was for teams like the Giants and the Steelers. Not the Cowboys. Not the team Tom Landry built. Not the home of the Flex defense.

I am delighted to be rid of Buddy Ryan’s progeny and the 3-4 scheme. I am delighted to have Kiffin at the defensive helm. And I have a Zen-like peace about the Sensabaugh move.