Rob Ryan, Not Romo or Garrett, Should Bear Brunt of Cowboys Criticism

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystDecember 23, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 21:  Rob Ryan of the Dallas Cowboys during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 21, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys haven't been eliminated from the postseason yet, but their chances took a pretty significant hit with Sunday's overtime loss at the hands of the New Orleans Saints.

The latest in a seemingly never-ending string of December failures will no doubt bring out the critics, especially should they fall again next week to the Washington Redskins and miss the playoffs.

The first target, as it usually is, will be quarterback Tony Romo.

Granted, Romo has had his share of trouble in the last month, but against the Saints he did everything short of throw a scoring strike standing on his head, topping 400 yards through the air and tossing four touchdown passes.

The criticism will then be turned to head coach Jason Garrett. Some of that is well-deserved, and Garrett certainly hasn't met the inflated expectations that go with being head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, but like it or not Garrett will be back in 2013, according to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer via Pro Football Talk.

You know who shouldn't be? Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Ryan was brought in before the 2011 season to improve a Dallas defense that ranked 10th in the league in total defense in 2010 by installing his signature aggressive 3-4 defense.

Well, that defense has Ryan's signature all over it, as the Cowboys are a middle-of-the-pack team defensively that was just shredded by the Saints, and while some of that can be attributed to injuries, a lot of the blame lies squarely with Ryan, who hasn't had any real success as a defensive coordinator since his days in Oakland.

Since Ryan left Oakland after the 2008 season, he's coordinated a defense that ranked in the top 10 exactly once (his first season in Cleveland), and even that team ranked outside the top 10 in scoring defense.

Frankly, Ryan has lasted this long in the NFL as a defensive coordinator more due to his name than his acumen. Rob may share a surname with brother Rex and father Buddy, but he isn't their equal as a defensive mind.

Rob Ryan's "aggressiveness" on defense is for the sake of aggression. It has no rhyme or reason, it's sloppy, and far too often it leads to bad pursuit angles and holes in coverage that quarterbacks such as Drew Brees exploit with ease.

So long as that's the case these sorts of late-season disappointments will keep happening.

And the Dallas Cowboys should be able to do better than that.