OXNARD, Calif. - You'd think the Cowboys had never changed defenses before to listen to all the whining and gnashing of teeth this winter. Somehow, the Cowboys managed to survive dumping Tom Landry's Flex defense when Jimmy Johnson arrived on the scene 16 years ago. All that led to was three more Super Bowl rings. So can we put an end to all this angst about Bill Parcells hammering a few square pegs into round holes? Something tells me he knows exactly what he's doing. The square pegs-into-round holes worry dominated off-season Cowboys talk as fans and radio talk show hosts contemplated the Cowboys' harrowing shift from their traditional 4-3 defense to the Parcells-favored 3-4. The team's best defensive players, critics fretted, wringing their hands, just don't fit the 3-4. Greg Ellis believes he might be too small to play end, they worried. La'Roi Glover won't be on the field as much as he battles for playing time with free agent nose guard Jason Ferguson. Dat Nguyen is too small to play inside linebacker in this alignment. Stop it. Just let the big dog eat. Let Parcells do what he thinks is right for the Cowboys. That's what Jerry Jones hired him to do. If you want to second guess, second guess Parcells for not doing this two years ago when he arrived. Parcells' basic answer to that is that if he knew then what he knows now, he probably would have. Based on what we saw last season, it was change the defensive philosophy or get ready for another six-win season. Parcells didn't come here to win six games a year. Besides, the Cowboys aren't totally abandoning the 4-3. They're just adding another option. "There's no team in the league that doesn't employ some principles of both schemes," Parcells said after the team's third workout of camp over the weekend. "It's much simpler for the defensive linemen, this defense. Much simpler. "It's a little harder for the linebackers. The secondary isn't affected at all, one way or the other." The advantages, Parcells decided, outweighed any real or imagined personnel disadvantages. Parcells gladly ticked off some of them for us. "At any time, you can drop eight people into coverage," he pointed out. "That complicates things for the quarterback. Not many [4-3] teams have the ability to do that. "The second thing is, it's more one-on-one football. It forces the offense to block more straight and less angles than a gap defense does. Sometimes that's more difficult for the offense to do." The 3-4 also will cut down on some of the quarterback bootleg plays NFL teams have fallen in love with over the past few years. "You never know when that outside linebacker's coming right into the quarterback's face," Parcells said. "And you don't cover your linebackers up as well in the 3-4 as you do in the 4-3. In the 3-4 you can free your middle linebacker up a lot." The key to the 3-4 is the front seven, of course. It's a simple defense for the three down linemen, more complicated for the linebackers. "You have to balance your rush lanes on a three-man front all the time," Parcells said. "In other words, the nose [guard] and the end have to balance up on the side that the linebacker is rushing. "That's a little more difficult to do effectively than a four-man rush all the time. We're rushing four, but we're rushing them at a different angle than four-man-front teams do." Whatever concerns Ellis and Glover may have had about their roles in Parcells' new defensive scheme over the winter seem to have been eased with the beginning of camp. Ellis has taken pains to dispel reports that he and Parcells had some sort of confrontational meeting a few weeks ago -- something those of us who know both men should have realized was ludicrous from the beginning. "Through this whole situation, I'm learning to trust Bill a whole lot," Ellis said. "Everybody knows he's a phenomenal coach, but just to personally trust him. For me, that's a lot." Parcells, for his part, is so comfortable with Ellis and so sure that he'll flourish in the 3-4, he can even tease him about the move. "I just think Greg has to get his confidence up," Parcells said. "He was a little apprehensive about what he could do, that's all. "I was kidding him just this morning. I said, 'We're going to move you to nose tackle next year.'" Glover, who has played the 3-4 with other teams, seems excited about the possibilities for overall team defensive improvement. "If you're able to stop the run with your base front, you can run so many blitzes out of this defense that it's amazing," Glover said. "Hopefully, we'll have some success doing that, and we can blitz people and it's harder for an offense to pick up." Glover will still start in the Cowboys' nickel package and about half the time in the basic set. "I know Glover can do it," Parcells said. "He's very quick, and he's got quick hands. And he's got leverage. "Look it, he's a good player. He's the last of my worries, really." Just like this shift to the 3-4 should be the last of our worries. If Parcells says it will work, my guess is, it will work. Never doubt the size hammer Big Bill swings. If he needs a square peg to fit in a round hole, believe me, it's going in, one way or the other. * * * I did a copy & paste as it now looks like the FTW Star-Telegram is using userids/passwords for entry. http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/sports/12291800.htm ******************************************************* As you may know, the Cowboys like some other NFL teams are switching to the 3-4, or atleast incorporating the 3-4 into their overall defense. Bill Parcells, like our head coach, is one of the recognized authorities on this defense. This is a very insighful article as Parcells has a lot of good things to say about the 3-4, including comparisons between it and the other primary NFL D, the 4-3. Very relevant article for any team like ours that runs the 3-4.