IRVING ó If Sundayís season-opener is any indication, Wade Phillips still has a lot of work to do before morphing Dallasí defense into anything comparable to what he had in San Diego.

Iíll excuse him for Sundayís 35-point outburst by the Giants, but I donít want to.

It became very clear, very early that Terrence Newman is going to have to be on the field for the Cowboys to have a respectable defense.

Newmanís replacement, Jacques Reeves, had an interception and a nice batted ball in the end zone, but that was it.

Plaxico Burress, who has long been thought to be a guy who will quit on plays, not block on running plays and has been known to shy away from going across the middle, made Reeves look like nothing more than a Division III football player.

Reeves probably would have been helped by a defensive line that put pressure on Eli Manning, but itís hard to put pressure on a quarterback that only needs to drop back three steps before his receivers are open.

Newman has been gone for three weeks now. While he has tried to practice and thought he might be able to play before Sundayís kickoff, three weeks is plenty of time to prepare someone.

If itís not enough time to prepare a person, then fix your defensive game plan accordingly.

Phillips may be able to turn around the defense, but his job got a lot harder Sunday when Jason Ferguson went down.

For a defense that failed to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, the last thing you need to lose is your nose tackle.

The Cowboys will have a chance to show what it can do defensively this week against an offense in Miami that is not very good.

Whether itís a good showing or not, Phillipsí free passes are over.