By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Improved defense is why Phillips was hired in the first place. It's why the Cowboys have spent eight of their last 10 top draft picks on defensive players. It's why seven of the 11 starters were ranked among Sports Illustrated's 500 best NFL players. It's why an 11-5 record and the first playoff victory in 11 seasons are not only realistic but required.
With assistants free to talk and defenders free to attack, Dallas will be better.
Boasted defensive coordinator Brian Stewart of his unit during camp, "I feel it should be the best defense in the NFL."
For that to happen, Ellis must stop campaigning and start contributing. It's been too long since he's been a positive presence. Forever a fixture at team functions, he wasn't at the Gaylord Texan's Glass Cactus bar last week, where co-linebackers Bradie James and Bobby Carpenter played dominos with T.O. during quarterback Tony Romo's radio show party. He wasn't on SI's ranking. And he likely won't be in uniform Sunday night when NBC's Al Michaels and John Madden detail an early NFC East showdown with season-long ramifications.
Gone but not forgotten, the Cowboys need Greg Ellis. To again be a good guy. And a great player.