Does Dallas' Defense Have Leadership Void?

With Keith Davis, Greg Ellis and Zach Thomas gone, who will lead the Dallas defense in 2009?

Say "Dallas Cowboys' 2008 season" and you will likely induce shudders, and possibly vomiting.
For all anyone can remember, the Cowboys were just awful last season. This is kind of true; but not really.
Of course, the season was a terrible disappointment. Any season in which you are annointed NFC champs before the first snooze-inducing preseason game of the year lends itself to such feelings at season's end.
Dallas didn't help itself in this regard by crumbling completely throughout the last five quarters of the year; bad timing, lack of leadership or just being ill-prepared, it got hard to watch -- like the end of Braveheart, in the context of professional football.
Lost in all this, with good reason perhaps, is the fact that Dallas, its defense in particular, was pretty awesome at times last year. The team was ranked ninth in the league in total defense, eight spots ahead of NFC Champion Arizona.
But, at least for the last two seasons, the question of defensive leadership has been a pressing one, for fans and writers if not for the Cowboys themselves.
Keith Davis was brought back, and Zach Thomas was brought in, last summer, leading one to believe this is not a chimera of outsiders though.
A year later, both are gone, as is, for all practical purposes, Greg Ellis, who was another powerful locker room presence.
Talks of bringing in Ray Lewis, a pre-packaged bundle of leadership, fell through as well; it's questionable whether or not this was ever a very viable option in the first place.
If you're the kind of person that puts a lot of stock in this intangible type of thing, it would seem that Dallas might be hosed.
But I'm not convinced. While 'intangibles' might have departed the Cowboys' locker room this off-season, the talent is about the same--possibly better.
Dallas brought in a group that is not only talented, but deft at working in the Phillips 3-4, a scheme that has had its share of critics from Dallas' locker room, players who felt uncomfortable in the system; this list includes the New York-bound Chris Canty who, despite countless reports suggesting otherwise, I don't count as an insufferable loss for Dallas.
Perhaps the Cowboys do need a vocal leader within the defense, someone who sets the tone on the field as well as in the press room. Perhaps one will emerge in 2009--they probably will (DeMarcus Ware?)
But I'd much rather go into a season with a talented unit with questions of leadership than a unit with an unquestioned leader and an all-too-questionable talent-base.
Leadership is organic, at least with respect to team sports. Phillips is at the helm, as he was for the latter part of 2008, when Dallas was (for the most part) suffocating as a unit, and the talent, as it stands now, seems to be in place. Whether it is during OTAs, training camp in San Antonio, or over the first few games of the season, leaders will inevitably emerge.
Phillips, no doubt, should make sure of it; because, if they don't, it might just mean his job.

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