Paul Pasqualoni Faces Huge Hurdles as Cowboys' Defensive Coordinator
But the 61-year-old Pasqualoni, whose promotion to defensive coordinator in Dallas on Monday was a footnote to the hubbub over Jason Garrett replacing Wade Phillips as coach, always had months to prepare for his previous assignments. This time, he has less than a week to figure out how to slow down the New York Giants, who have won five straight games, boast the NFL's second-ranked offense and third-ranked running game and who torched the Cowboys for 41 points just 16 days ago.
Making matters worse for Pasqualoni, the defensive line he had been coaching lost left end Marcus Spears for the year with a torn calf muscle and rookie backup Sean Lissemore to a high ankle sprain for four to six weeks in this past Sunday's 45-7 embarrassment at Green Bay.
With reserve end Jason Hatcher still sidelined with a strained groin, the Cowboys were left with nose tackles Jay Ratliff and Josh Brent, right end Igor Olshansky and presumed new starting end Stephen Bowen (two starts in five years in Dallas).
So Wednesday the Cowboys signed Jeremy Clark, a 4-3 defensive tackle who played four games with the 2008 Giants but has spent most of his four seasons since leaving Alabama on the practice squads of New York, Arizona, Atlanta and Philadelphia, and rookie end Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, who had been on St. Louis' practice squad after being one of Dallas' final cuts this summer.
Practice squad fullback Alex Daniels was a 3-4 end at the University of Cincinnati in 2009, but at 259 pounds is a whopping 48 pounds lighter than the average weight of Spears, Olshansky, Lissemore and Hatcher. Not exactly the proper reinforcement for a defense that has stumbled from ninth overall during their 2009 NFC East championship season to 17th and from fourth against the run to 24th.
In falling to 1-7, their worst midseason record in 21 years, the Cowboys have allowed 121 points the past three games. The Giants have scored 110 points in their past three games. It's going to take Pasqualoni more than his master's degree in human performance to figure a way out of this mess and he has virtually no time to do so.