Following the Dallas Cowboys' embarrassing 49-17 Week 10 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night, team owner Jerry Jones appears to be second-guessing the team's decision to fire defensive coordinator Rob Ryan after the 2012 season.
After the Saints' defense, led by Ryan, held the Cowboys to just 193 total yards and 17 points in the game, Jones admitted that it looks like the Cowboys pulled the trigger too soon, per ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon:
We thought it was best for us to go in the direction that we are, and it doesn't look good right now. Hopefully we can make it look good, but I have all the feelings that you have when you want to look back at a decision, and I realize when some of them work you have to have a few things go along with it.
Candidly, we're having some of the same things that Rob had last year. Frankly, to be fair to Rob, he lost a lot of guys on defense. We lost more this year. That's the game, though. That's what we play. That's the NFL.
Injuries to linebackers Sean Lee and Justin Durant certainly didn't make things any easier for Dallas.
Still, Jones' comments suggest that the Cowboys' front office regrets firing Ryan after just two seasons, the most recent of which was plagued by injuries. After all, Dallas ranks dead last in total defense through 10 games this season, allowing nearly 440 total yards per contest. The Philadelphia Eagles are the only other NFL team allowing more than 400 total yards per week.
To put Kiffin's defensive unit's struggles into perspective, the Cowboys ranked 19th in total defense under Ryan in 2012 and 14th the year before.
What's the biggest reason for Dallas' defensive struggles in 2013?
However, one key area where the Cowboys' defense is much improved this season is in the takeaway department. Dallas has forced 22 turnovers to this point, six more than they had all of last season under Ryan. Their 2013 mark ranks second in the league behind only the Kansas City Chiefs.
But the problem for Jones' Cowboys is that when the defense isn't generating turnovers, it's letting up big play after big play.
Say what you want about Ryan's lack of success during his two years in Dallas, but his Cowboys defense never allowed more than 38 points in a single game. Kiffin's has already let up 51 and 49 points just 10 games into his first season.
Given the Cowboys' eagerness to change directions in a hurry, it wouldn't be surprising if Kiffin were the next big-name coordinator headed for the exit in Dallas.
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