Sports Outside the Beltway

2006 Cowboys Defense: Doomsday III

Cowboys announcer Brad Sham thinks the defense Bill Parcells has assembled may be something special. Enough so as to evoke comparison to the legendary Doomsday defenses of the 1970s and 1980s.

Until Thursday night, the first-team defense hadn’t given up a touchdown in the preseason. That it came on a 98-yard drive by the Vikings didn’t faze Sham a bit. “What you have to remember is that you haven’t seen their scheme yet,” he said. “All you’ve seen is their individual players playing.” And that’s looked pretty good.

Sham isn’t alone out there in thinking this Cowboys defense can be scary good. “Maybe not the Steelers of the ’70s, Eagles of the ’90s and not the ’85 Bears,” KTVT/Channel 11 sports anchor and former Cowboys quarterback Babe Laufenberg said. “But I think they can be pretty darn good. If they can stay healthy, I’d be surprised if it’s not a top 10 defense.”

Of course, if they’re not the “Steel Curtain” or at least the ’90s Eagles, then they’re not even close to Doomsday I or even II, but everything’s relative.

“I’m not saying it’s going to be the ’85 Bears, but in the 21st century and what the NFL is now, I think it’ll be pretty good,” Sham said. “They have a swagger developing and my expectation is that by the end of the year, they’ll have quite a swagger.”

It takes talented players to have a defense that earns a nickname that sticks through the ages, like Doomsday, or Steel Curtain, or Purple People Eaters. Do the Cowboys of today have a Bob Lilly, who anchored the defensive line in the ’70s, or a Randy White-Harvey Martin tandem, who helped revive the nickname in the late ’70s and ’80s?

Not yet. But this is a defense that certainly doesn’t lack for talent. Great things are already expected of DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears, both in their second seasons. Same goes for Chris Canty, Bradie James and Kevin Burnett. Throw in veterans such as Greg Ellis and Jason Ferguson, and a secondary with great cover corners and a safety in Roy Williams who hits like a Mack truck, and it’s no wonder the sky’s the limit.

“This is the main reason I think they’re going to be that good, and it’s based on talking to them over the course of the summer: They really like each other,” said Sham, who is about to begin his 28th season in the Cowboys’ booth. “They really like playing together and they have a lot of leaders. They don’t rely on one guy to stand up in the room and take charge.”

The problem with comparison to the great defenses of the 1970s, or even the 1985 Bears, is that free agency has made it impossible to stockpile that level of talent and keep them together long enough to truly gel as a unit. Still, there is a ton of raw talent on this defense, most of them young players signed to long term deals. Whether this is Doomsday III or just a really strong NFL defense, though, remains to be seen.

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