For some people, this particular topic may be easy. They have a favorite defensive person and see all their strengths and ignore their flaws and simply proclaim them the best. But for me this is a particularly difficult decision. There are several players that can make a claim to being the best defender. Greg Ellis has been the rock around which the defense has been built for the last decade. Alas, his incessant whining and more importantly, his Achilles injury make him a bit suspect. Terrance Newman has been performing at a pro-bowl caliber for the past couple of years, but you have to wonder about his short stature and the fact that he hasn't been selected to the pro bowl as of yet. Roy Williams can hit with the best of them, but whether it was a bad scheme or not, he has been burned deep too many times.
So while recognizing that each of these players is an important element of a potentially great defense - and I am glad to have each one of them on my team - by process of elimination, I come to Demarcus Ware as the BEST defender.
I really believe that he was hampered by the conservative Parcell's style of defense yet at times he still dominated games. He hit double digits in sacks even though he often had to drop into pass coverage. With Wade Phillips' new brand of the 3-4, I expect the sack totals to climb significantly this next year.
But it is not just his pass rushing ability that catapults him to the top of the list. Does anyone remember the leaping interception he made against Atlanta last year? That was a thing of beauty. His quick hands and feet, tied with his speed make him an opponent to be feared by the best of offensive lineman.
He has the natural skill and reaction time to accomplish just dern near anything he sets his mind to on the football field. His athleticism and drive make him a cornerstone of an impressive defensive machine. I daresay that the new system he will be playing in - and his taking advantage of that system - will lead to all of the other players I mentioned being better this year, too.
When he is in the face of the QB, there will be more hurried throws, resulting in more interceptions. Newman and Williams will be the beneficiaries there. QBs won't have time to burn anyone deep very often. Waiting for the deep route to open will often result in Ware celebrating another sack. The attention that he will receive from the offense will make it even easier for Ellis (or whoever is playing the other side) more opportunity to get to the QB as well. I just don't see any other single player who can have such an impact on a game or can elevate the playing of his teammates.
So my opinion is that Demarcus Ware is the man. He is our best defender on a team loaded with great defenders.
The Dallas Cowboys do not have any linebackers in the teams illustrious history that have been inducted into Pro Football's Hall of Fame. They've had some real good ones, and some that I feel warrant consideration, but none have made it as of yet. Lee Roy Jordan is the best middle linebacker that ever played for the Cowboys. He mastered Landry's Flex defense and intercepted 32 passes in his career. Chuck Howley is very underrated, his career consisted of much more than just one Super Bowl MVP. He was NFL All Pro 5 times and played in 6 Pro Bowls. Howley and Jordan are the only linebackers the Cowboys have inducted into the Ring of Honor. Thomas Henderson had some marvelous seasons, and he could have been a great one. He was as physically gifted as any linebacker ever to play.
When the Cowboys drafted DeMarcus Ware, Bill Parcells set the bar high right from the start, saying Ware reminded him of Lawrence Taylor. Those are huge shoes to fill for any player, let alone one from a small college and one that had never played linebacker before turning professional. Ware has handled it pretty well, though. He had 8 sacks his rookie season, and then followed it up with 11.5 last year and his first Pro Bowl. And he didn't get as many opportunities to rush the passer as he should have. Ware also plays the run very well, and he has the ability to cover backs out of the backfield. He has shown great athletic ability. Opponents already scheme game plans just to stop him.
Ware doesn't appear to be the kind of player that will let success go to his head. And he comes from a good upbringing, I don't expect off the field issues to ever hinder his career. But I'm not predicting a Hall of Fame career for him just yet. A lot of things have to go right for any player to achieve that status. But I am predicting a monster season from Ware playing in the Wade Phillips version of the 3-4 defense, and it is undeniable that Ware has that kind of talent. DeMarcus Ware is the Cowboys best defender, and he is the Cowboys core player whose career I'm the most excited about.