Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has said several times that the abundance of injuries on defense are not an excuse for poor play. It’s probably in his best interest to continue saying that because his boss doesn’t seem to think injuries should prevent Ryan’s group from playing well, which they didn’t do Sunday night.
The Cowboys, who held on for a 38-33 victory, allowed the Philadelphia Eagles to rack up 423 yards with rookie quarterback Nick Foles posting a 96.6 QB rating and rookie running back Bryce Brown rushing for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensive starters Jay Ratliff, Kenyon Coleman, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and Barry Church did not play for the Cowboys because of injuries. Ratliff is the only one in the group that’s not out for the remainder of the season.
But instead of mentioning the players they were without, Jerry Jones was focused Tuesday on the team’s top defenders – DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr – that were on the field.
“We don’t go there injury-wise because we shouldn’t,” the Cowboys owner and general manager said on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “We brought in a top free agent linebacker (Dan Connor) because we didn’t really know if Carter was going to be Carter before the season started. Really, I look at it as though we’re probably a man short.
“There are teams in the league that don’t have their pressure players. Spencer’s having an outstanding year. Ware got a little dinged up early the other night, but he’s outstanding. We’ve got top corners, so you got your guys to put the pressure on them and you got the guys (on the back end). I’m just looking at fundamental defense out there. Our strength of our defense is where you’re supposed to have it. We ought to be playing and can be playing better defense.”
During the off-season, Jones was dedicated to improving a defense that finished 14th in the league in 2011. The Cowboys spent their first four draft picks on defense – Claiborne, Tyrone Crawford, Kyle Wilber and Matt Johnson – and signed Carr (five years, $50.1 million) and Connor (two years, $6.5 million).
But the results haven’t been better. The Cowboys allowed 343.2 yards and 21.7 points per game last season. Through 12 games this season, they’re allowing 336.7 yards and 24.6 points. The overall record isn’t better, either. The 6-6 Cowboys were 7-5 at this time last year.