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January 11, 2013

Can DeMarcus Ware play with his hand in the ground? Can Bruce Carter be a WILL? Who is the 3-technique?

Tony Dungy believes the Cowboys are two drafts from having the personnel to successfully run Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 system, if that is the defense Kiffin uses. The Cowboys have run a 3-4 since 2005 when Bill Parcells switched schemes.

The key to Kiffin's Tampa 2 is the 3-technique, the defensive tackle position Warren Sapp made famous in his nine years with the Bucs.

"They’re about to turn a 3-4 team back into what?" Sapp said. "Now who is the motor in that 3-4? Because it’s got to be the 3-technique."

Jason Hatcher would have to play the part of Sapp, one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The top 3-technique in the draft is Utah's Starlite Lotulelei, according to CBS Sports draft analyst Dane Brugler.

"[Derrick] Brooks and I always joke about it," former Bucs safety John Lynch said. "We tell the story where Tony [Dungy] once told us, 'I want to make something very clear: You and Derrick are wonderful players. I think you're Hall of Fame players. But this defense doesn’t work without this guy [Sapp]. This is where it all starts.' He went back to the roots of the defense with Mean Joe Greene. I think that’s where it all starts on that defense. When you have a guy in that particular system who is wreaking havoc, it’s tough to deal with."

After the 3-technique, it's the WILL and the strong safety who are most important in Kiffin's defense. That was Brooks and Lynch. In Dallas, it will be Bruce Carter and Barry Church as it stands now.

"It starts at the ball and works right down the middle," Dungy said. "They’re all important, but in order, I think it would be the 3-technique, that dominating weakside linebacker and the safety. That’s what you have to put in place to have that system be great. So to me that’s where if they do want to do that, they’re probably a couple of drafts away. They’ve got some dominating players. They’ve got two corners who are going to be big-time players. They’ve got two outside linebackers who are tremendous. But they don’t have what this system takes. That’s why I will be curious to see what they end up doing."

One thing the ex Bucs agree on is: DeMarcus Ware will be fine with whatever system he is in. He currently is an outside linebacker but would be an end with his hand on the ground in a 4-3. Brooks said Ware's job will be simple: Rush the passer. Ware no longer will be asked to drop into coverage.

"DeMarcus Ware is a Hall-of-Fame player in my mind," Lynch said. "He’s got a lot more of his career left to prove that. But I believe that’s where he’s going. He is as good as any of us were. He’s a game-changing type of player. I think there are some other guys who can be stars. But to do that, you’ve got to do it over a long period of time."

Dungy, though, questions whether the Cowboys should move Ware as great as he has been as an outside linebacker. Ware has 111 sacks in eight seasons at the position.

"The problem you have is you’re moving a Hall of Fame outside linebacker," Dungy said. "You’re moving positions when you do that. But again, I think it will be what system Monte decides to play. That is the question."

Sean Lee would be the middle linebacker, and Jay Ratliff the 1-technique. Kyle Wilber and Dan Connor are among the candidates for SAM linebacker. Anthony Spencer is scheduled to become a free agent, so the Cowboys might have to find another end if they can't afford to keep him.

"I’ve always loved Dallas’ personnel, but they’ve never been able to stay healthy and put a collection together," Sapp said. "That’s always been their thing. If they can ever get a collection of healthy individuals to where they can put that talent on the field week in and week out, they will be tough to beat."

-- Charean Williams 






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wouldn't ratliff be a good 3-technique guy?

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