Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan says there’s just one area of the field where he needs his players to perform better for his defense to achieve greatness.
“We’re not playing good defense and it’s only because of the red zone. If we get that cleaned up, we’ll have a great defense,” Ryan told the Dallas Morning News. “It’s been disappointing. It takes everybody’s focus and for us to be where we want to be, where everybody wants us to be, we have to play better there.”
Of course, struggling in the red zone isn’t just a little quirk of an otherwise great defense, and solving problems in the red zone isn’t just some minor tweak. If you’re not good at keeping your opponents out of the end zone once they get inside the 20-yard line, you’re not a good defense.
And it’s also not quite true to suggest that the Cowboys’ only problem is in the red zone: In Sunday’s win over the Redskins, Washington marched down the field on a 12-play, 89-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime, and then had a 10-play, 48-yard drive in overtime to set up an attempt at a game-winning field goal. The Redskins’ overtime field goal attempt missed, and the Cowboys then won the game with a field goal of their own, but Ryan’s defense can hardly take credit for that.
So while he’s admitting the red zone is an area where he needs his defense to get better, Ryan may be overstating the overall quality of his defense. Not exactly breaking news, I know.