Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was probably more pleasant to the Dallas media after Thursday’s preseason game than he was to his players. The Cowboys beat the Denver Broncos 24-23 in each team’s first preseason game of 2011, but Ryan’s defense did not perform as well as he’d liked. In his Dallas debut, Ryan’s first-team unit was driven down the field by Denver, but then stood up in the red zone. Ryan talked about his team’s performance and his evaluation of his players after the game.
“We had a little breakdown there on the first third down,” Ryan said. “We didn’t blitz much tonight, obviously. But we did have the one dialed up, and it was ready to go. We just kind of missed the coverage behind it and it ended up being a big play against us. Then, they had a run on a check that we missed. So it was a big run there and got it down to our goal line. I was happy the way they responded in the red zone. We’ve got to be great down there. We can’t give up touchdowns.”
The first-team’s play in the red zone was about the only thing Ryan could be happy about. The Broncos’ offense marched right down the field all the way to the Dallas 3-yard line before the Cowboys’ defense stiffened. However, Ryan’s defense in Cleveland was known for not giving up points even if they did give up yards. The Cowboys were the second-worst defense in the NFL in 2010 in points allowed, so the red zone play is definitely a positive sign that Ryan’s philosophy is starting to sink in. Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he was pleased with his first outing under Ryan.
“You can watch film all day, but you’ve got to get in there, and you’ve got to see it, because it’s not your traditional 3-4,” Ware said. “Guys are going to attack you certain ways and you’ve got to know how to play those. Fundamentally, we played well, and we played hard. But there are always things you can work on.”