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Ware Can Be Even Better Under Phillips’ Scheme

ware-tc07_330.jpgLast year DeMarcus Ware led the Cowboys with 11.5 sacks, and just two years ago, Coach Phillips was looking at both Ware and Shawne Merriman in the 2005 draft as the top two defensive players available.  As it worked out for the then-Defensive Coordinator for the Chargers, the Cowboys selected Ware with the 11th overall pick and he was able to get Merriman with the 12th.

“We obviously liked both of them,” Phillips said. “We brought both of them in. They were two of the top players in the draft.  We thought they were good players.”  Phillips was accurate in his assessment then as both players were selected to last year’s Pro Bowl and both turned out to be playmakers early on in their careers.  But what a surprise it must have been to Phillips when he got the opportunity to coach both players.

“Coach Phillips knows how to coach the 3-4 and he can put pressure on the quarterback. That’s why we’re excited about it,” said Ware.  Everyone knows how succesful Phillips’ scheme was in San Diego that allowed Merriman to get 27 sacks last year, so excitement is high about how his scheme will work here in Dallas. 

“You always want to get better each year – you don’t want to go backwards,” Ware said. “So I had 11 ½ last year, I want more than that. I don’t know how much more, but just a little bit higher.”

“This defense allows me to do what I do best and that’s get to the quarterback,” Ware said. “I want to be a well-rounded player. That’s one of my goals this year is to be more of a complete player. And that means getting better in coverage and my drops. But the main thing I still do in this defense is pass rush. So that’s why I like it. It’s going to allow us to make more plays and attack.”

This holds true for the entire defense as players such as Jason Ferguson and LB’s Akin Ayodelle and Bradie James hope to improve upon their sack totals as well.  But they all agree that the key to this year’s pass rush is Ware. 

The difference between this year’s 3-4 scheme and last year’s is that Ware will rotate to the weak side and play opposite the tight end every play.  This will help to stop some of the double-teams he faced last year, and reduce some of the coverage duties.  He will still be an OLB, but pressuring the QB will be his specialty. 

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