During his tenure with the Dallas Cowboys, Rob Ryan shouldered a lot of the blame for their lack of defense. Sunday night, he got his revenge against his former team. His replacement, Monte Kiffin, saw his defense give up a Cowboys’ franchise-worst 626 yards
The Cowboys struggled the entire Sunday night against a vastly improved New Orleans Saints defense that ranks fifth in points-allowed and ninth in passing yards allowed. The Saints held the Cowboys in check for most of the game, not allowing them to get into any type of rhythm. Ryan was criticized heavily about what was reported as an overly complicated defensive scheme that caused his players to be out of position many times last year. Fast-forward a year later, Ryan’s Saints shut down one of the most explosive offenses in the league.
Things did not go as well for Kiffin’s defense, who nearly gave up their fifth 400-yard passer on the year. The Cowboys’ defense gave up 49 points to the Saints this past Sunday and was dominated in both the passing and running game. After losing linebacker Sean Lee to injury early in the game, the Cowboys defense did not have much go right for them in the Super Dome. Lee has been one of the lone bright spots for the Cowboys on defense this year with his ability to make plays and his ball hawking skills. Any extended time missed by Lee could prove to be the final nail in the coffin for a Dallas team that is started to lose its strangle hold over the NFC-East. While the rest of the NFC East is finally putting it all together, the Cowboys are suffering key injury after key injury and searching for answers heading into the bye week.
With the likes of DeMarcus Ware and Lee still weary from their injuries, the upcoming bye week is going to be crucial for the Cowboys. Kiffin will need to devise a better defensive scheme that better utilizes the players he does have left. With Ryan no longer available to blame, the blame is squarely on the shoulders of the defense of the Cowboys players now. After giving up an NFL-record 40 first downs on Sunday, the Cowboys may be in first place in the NFC east for now, but any more defensive efforts like Sundays will result in the Cowboys losing their grasp of what was once a promising season.