Jets coach Rex Ryan said the Cowboys defense will be much better in 2012 under his brother Rob Ryan than 2011 just because they will have the benefit an off season program to get more comfortable with his scheme. The Cowboys didn't have that last year because of the lockout and had to learn the scheme on the fly in training camp.
"It's not a vanilla defense," Ryan said. "If you play vanilla defense in this league you are going to get busted. It takes time to implement things. Having the minicamps and training camp I think will help."
Ryan said the Cowboys did very good last year in spite of the lack of an off season, improving from 23rd in total defense (351.8 yards per game) and 31st in scoring defense (27.3 points per game) in 2010 to 14th (343.2) and 16th (21.7), respectively, in 2011.
He expects the Cowboys to rise to become the second-best defense in 2012 but no further.
"I'll be honest with you -- they've got a chance to be second in the league in defense," Ryan said during the AFC coaches' breakfast Tuesday morning at the league meetings.
"(They) improved a touchdown a game over the previous season. I think that's impressive. That's under the radar. I think you get criticized because they assume you took over a top-rated defense. That wasn't the case."
Second in the league?
"Absolutely," Ryan deadpanned.