IRVING, TX - When Bill Parcells announced at the beginning of the summer that the Cowboys would switch to a 3-4 alignment for its primary defense, the veteran players who had played for years in the Cowboys' traditional 4-3 defense faced a bigger adjustment than the rookies who had so much to learn anyway.
Perhaps no player faced a bigger adjustment with the defensive shift
than DT La'Roi Glover. Considered undersized, Glover excelled in the 4-3 by utilizing his quickness to
slice through opposing offensive lines to pressure the quarterback and
tackle running backs. But in the 3-4, defensive tackles become
nosetackles, usually lining up directly over the center. In the 3-4,
the prototypical nosetackle is substantially larger … like free agent
signee Jason Ferguson, who carries 20 more pounds in his powerful
When Ferguson -- another former "Parcells guy" from their days together
with the New York Jets -- came aboard, many assumed Glover would be
slowly removed from the Cowboys' defensive plans. That's not the case.
Glover is expected to start in the middle against the Chargers Sunday,
although Ferguson also should get ample playing time, according to
At the time the shift in philosophy was announced, Glover was unsure
about the adjustment that was made. Now, he said, he finds himself
fitting in with the Cowboys' new defensive look.
"I feel pretty comfortable in this defense now," Glover said. "I'm
starting to make more plays as I understand the defense."
The Chargers, he said, have a solid offensive line, but the strength of
the Bolts' blockers goes further than the sheer bulk of the group,
which averages about 324 pounds per man.
"They're big, but more than that, they're really scrappy, really
aggressive," Glover said. "They're a bunch of tough guys most people
have never heard of, but they're a tough bunch.
One player with whom Glover (and Ferguson) will have frequent
encounters Sunday is San Diego LG Toniu Fonoti, whose 6-4, 350-pound
frame makes him one of the largest offensive linemen in the league. His
350 pounds actually represent a marked reduction in size, who
reportedly ballooned up to 380 or more last season, earning the
reputation of being a lazy player. Glover said that watching Fonoti on
film does not reveal laziness.
"I don't see that at all," Glover said. "He's a huge dude, and I just
see him rolling people up, especially on the run. If he gets his hands
on you, you're in trouble."
Of course, Fonoti is not the focal point of the defensive game plan
against the Chargers. With all due respect to QB Drew Brees, who had a
terrific season in 2004, the man who makes the San Diego offense go is
RB LaDainian Tomlinson. Glover said it doesn't matter whether he or
Ferguson is in the middle of the Dallas defensive line when it comes to
altering Tomlinson's effectiveness.
"He's an incredible runner," Glover said. "We have to make sure to get
a lot of hats around him and really swarm him. We'll see how it comes