Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan oversees a defense that has struggled to force turnovers but ranks seventh among NFL teams in total defense (318 yards per game) and fourth in the NFC.
The Cowboys (5-5) have done so with three defensive starters on injured reserve (LB Sean Lee, DE Kenyon Coleman, S Barry Church) and several other key players on today’s 13-player injury report.
Considering the injury-related challenges, has this been Ryan’s best coaching job of his NFL career?
“It’s pretty damn good, so I don’t know,” Ryan said. “I’ve been good a long time. We have great players here. The scouting department does a great job of bringing these guys in … This isn’t a one-man show.”
Ryan said injuries will not be used as an excuse for falling short against the Redskins on Thursday despite a lack of depth at safety and other spots.
“It’s just about everybody on our team,” Ryan said of the Cowboys’ injury woes. “We’re OK. We’re not complaining.”
The Cowboys also have a solid game plan, in Ryan’s estimation, for stopping the Redskins and dual-threat rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III: lots of contact. Early and often.
“The big thing is, we’ve got to hit these guys hard,” Ryan said. “That’s the big thing. We have big football players out there on defense and we plan on hitting them hard. That’s what’s going to happen … (Griffin) is a very talented guy. Obviously, this game looks like it’s in slow motion for him already. Hopefully, we speed it up a whole lot (for him) this week.”
_ Jimmy Burch