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If you take a look at the Cowboys team stats from last season, there are a few obvious points of information.
The first is that they had surprisingly good team numbers, indicating that they caught a few bad breaks here and there during the season. This, of course, is absolutely true. Tony Romo was forced to miss much of the season with a broken collarbone, and virtually nothing seemed to go right for this team.
Yet somehow, they still managed to perform. Their offensive numbers were stellar, as they passed for 252.6 YPG (sixth overall) and rushed for 111.6 YPG (16th overall). Under Jason Garret’s leadership, the offense continued to produce.
On defense, the team wasn’t entirely atrocious. The opposing rush gained only 108.4 YPG (12th overall), which is respectable in terms of shutting down the running game.
The passing defense, however, was not. The 243.4 YPG allowed was the seventh highest in the league, which helped give up 27.3 PPG, the second highest overall in the league.
When your team is giving up the second most points per game, you’re simply not going to make the playoffs.
That’s why much of this offseason was devoted to revamping the entire defensive scheme of the organization. The franchise parted ways with Wade Phillips, former defensive mastermind and head coach of the Cowboys, and his entire defensive plan.
They have shifted gears and changed their mindset entirely.
For their new defensive coordinator, they’ve brought in defensive guru Rob Ryan. Ryan is the brother of Rex Ryan, who has implemented a successful defensive team in the New York Jets and has made it to the AFC Conference Championship both years that he has been in charge in New York.
Last season, under Rob Ryan’s leadership in Cleveland, the Browns only allowed 20.7 PPG, a significant upgrade over the Cowboys 27.3. In the air, they gave up 220.7 YPG, another big improvement.
Under Ryan, expect DeMarcus Ware to be utilized even more. Ware, who has led the league in sacks twice in the past few seasons, will see better play from the likes of linebacker Bradie James and defensive back and former first-round pick Mike Jenkins this season.
In Dallas, Ryan will have the ability to work with top of the line players that he never had the opportunity to see in Cleveland. With him, he has brought veteran Kenyon Coleman from the Browns.
Ryan is known to inspire veteran players, maximize the potential of younger players, and create inventive and clever ways to utilize his defense.
This is something that the Cowboys have lacked for years and should be a wonderful turn around that can help a team that lacked a solid defensive identity come into their own in a playoff run this season.