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Ryan Takes The Heat; Ready To Go

Cowboys defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan, has taken his fair share of criticism this year. The first-year Cowboy coordinator has been a target of fans and media alike after his defense relinquished a 12-point lead last Sunday to the division rival Giants.

Rob spoke with the media today and he was pointing fingers, they just weren’t at anyone else but himself. “It’s on me. When a team plays like that in the two-minute defense, it’s on the coach,” Ryan said. “We’ve got a real problem there. We’re addressing it. We’re going to get it fixed.”

Ryan singled out the two-minute defense as being the problem area, “Two-minute situations have been our Achilles’ heel all year,” he said. “We can look at anything else. That’s the facts. That’s on me. That’s exactly what happened. We’ve addressed them. We’re watching all the two-minute in the film as an entire defense now. We’re signaling now. I think we have a better approach, and I think it will help us.”

Ryan wasn’t making excuses, he wasn’t singling out any players, he simply put the blame on himself and insisted that the Cowboys defense will respond this week.

One area that they have worked on this week is communication, an issue Ryan says plagued them against the Giants, “We’re signaling from the sideline as well,” Ryan said. “They give you this headset that you talk into and one guy gets the call and you can’t line up and you can’t huddle. We’re not getting it communicated across, so it’s obviously a problem. So we have to get that done.”

The way they intend to fix the communication problems is sending in hand signals for all the defensive players. Usually, the Cowboys have used the headset to communicate with their middle linebacker, Sean Lee. Now it appears all the players will need to be responsible to pick up their signals from the coaching staff.

While Ryan was willing to put the blame on his shoulders, the Cowboys players were not. Earlier in the week, DeMarcus Ware, Mike Jenkins, and a couple of other players said the issues were originating on the field. They contend that the players have to step up.

Ryan admitted that the players need to play better, but still managed to keep the blame on himself, “Our players are aware that we have to play better. You can’t get penalties in the two-minute. That kicks the crap out of you every time. It’s been tough love this week, but we’re ready to go. But in the end it’s up to me.”

With the collapse against the Giants last week, coupled with the loss to the Cardinals the week before, Ryan and the Cowboys have gone from a team that could have clinched the division with those two wins, to a team that is now on the outside looking in. The good news for the Cowboys, if they win, they’re in.

The next test will be on Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While the Bucs have struggled this season (4-9), they have played teams very tough. Their biggest problems have been turnovers. But the Bucs match up well against the Cowboys. They have a trio of young, fast, and very talented wideouts. RB Legarrette Blount is a big power back and the Cowboys struggled last week with Brandon Jacobs. Blount is in the same mould, only faster. The Bucs quarterback, Josh Freeman, is young, but strong and mobile. He reminds many people of Donovan McNabb in his younger years. He has a powerful arm and the ability to hurt you with his legs.

Ryan is aware of the challenges, but he is still excited to set the record straight, “Hell yeah, I’m a competitor and I want them.” Get them he shall, the Cowboys are out of time and their out of excuses. They have to win the next three games to stay alive.

“The bottom line, there’s no excuses. The thing has to get fixed,” Ryan said. “It’s on me. It’s my watch. I know no one believes it, but I know I’m the best coach. I’m the best defensive coach. Teddy Roosevelt had a big line on critics: ‘You know it, but I don’t.’ I don’t give a crap. Confidence is something I have and it comes from having better knowledge than anyone else.”

Ryan has the confidence in himself, now the players just need to go out and act on it.

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