IRVING, Texas — Maybe Rob Ryan wasn’t the problem for the Dallas defense.
Even Cowboys owner Jerry Jones seems willing to acknowledge as much after New Orleans torched his team for a franchise record in yards allowed — the second time that’s happened in the past three weeks under Monte Kiffin, who replaced Ryan when Jones fired him 10 months ago.
Ryan was in charge of the Saints defense that held Dallas to its lowest offensive output in five years in a 49-17 loss on Sunday night.
“We thought that it was best for us to go in the direction that we are, and that doesn’t look good right now,” Jones said. “Candidly, we’re having some of the same things that Rob had last year. He had a lot of people, frankly, to be fair to Rob, he lost a lot of guys on defense.”
The biggest loss for Ryan last year was linebacker Sean Lee, who was gone for the season after injuring a toe in the sixth game. Lee got hurt again in New Orleans, pulling a hamstring in the first quarter. He should be back this year, but is likely to miss at least one game.
The Cowboys looked hopeless without Lee, surrendering an NFL-record 40 first downs and 625 yards — 2 more than the franchise record set two weeks earlier in Detroit. Those are the first two 600-yard games allowed by Dallas in its 53-year history.
The only reason Dallas didn’t allow a fifth 400-yard passer this season — the Cowboys already have the record by surrendering four — is because the Saints quit throwing after Drew Brees got to 392 early in the fourth quarter.
“I just didn’t expect this,” Jones said. “I never saw this coming. What I did think is that we could come in here and get some points on the board. I felt that certainly we are compromised relative to our defense where we are right now with our personnel, but that’s not an excuse. Because we still didn’t play as well as they played.”