The beautiful thing about preseason stats is that people will use them in any way they like to underline whatever argument they're trying to make. When the stats support an argument, you'll usually hear a phrase like "It's only the preseason, but look at ...," when they run counter to an argument you'll hear about why preseason stats don't mean a thing and how the 0-16 Lions went 4-0 in that preseason.
So it comes as no surprise that the DMN points out that the Cowboys first team defense allowed 30 points and 489 yards on only 10 possessions, just to show how bad the Cowboys defense is. Some will even go so far as to gleefully point out that while the Cowboys are ranked 23rd in the league with 346 yards allowed per game, the Texans are ranked number one with almost a hundred yards less.
And of course it doesn't come as any surprise either that Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan predictably "doesn't care what the stats say". Except it's much more fun reading what Ryan has to say than reading some random numbers hastily thrown together without rhyme or reason. Which is why, after the break, we'll look at what Ryan had to say yesterday.
Our own Brandon Worley had an insightful take on the defensive performance against the Vikings, effectively validating the preseason-stats-don't-matter argument (of course, don't try discussing this with a Lions fan. Right now, they think Matthew Stafford is the second coming).
I know that the players and coaches mentioned "game planning" for the Vikings, but what I witnessed was -- once again -- a team that approached the game in base packages and never really showed their hand, with the exception of only a few schemed plays on third down for both the offense and defense.
Therefore, to me, it's impossible to truly judge what this defense is going to look like when they take the field against the Jets, but what I can discern is that while we haven't seen much of Rob Ryan's true defense in the preseason, I doubt we'll be seeing much of it against the Jets, either.
With that in mind, Rob Ryan said there's nothing to worry about, and that the defense is right where he wants it to be.
"We're going to be ready to go and we're not going to have to worry about anything," Ryan said. "I know we've been compared to all the great defenses in the past, the '85 Bears, the [expletive] Baltimore Ravens and last year's preseason defense, but to be honest with you we're right where we want to be.
We don't care what the stats say. We see our improvement and we're doing a much better job communicating and we're still playing hard and doing better each week."
When he was asked how he knew that the Cowboys' defense would be just fine, he reiterated the points he had made before - just to make sure even the late-arriving journalists got their soundbite of the day - and added a few more which you can also watch in this video on the mothership.
"I've been coaching for a long time. I haven't done anything else but coach besides the occasional newspaper job, so I know where we're supposed to be. We might not be the 85 Bears or the Baltimore Ravens or last year's preseason defense - all the great ones - but we're perfect."
"We're right where we want to be, we're doing fine, we're improving every week, the communication is coming along, players are getting healthy and we're going to be great."
Ryan was then asked what most impressed him about Jason Garrett as a head coach, a question he briefly touched upon before he again began talking about the things a defensive coordinator likes to talk about, you know, like the defense.
"The organization is unbelieveable. He's so organized. The whole team is playing for each other. Already! Those are things that you don't see in every organization. He's done a phenomenal job here. These guys are first class professional guys that we're working with every day, and it's easy to improve when you're doing that."
"I know right now we haven't looked like a thing of beauty on defense all the time, but believe me fellas, we're right where we want to be. So we're not going to have to make excuses and we're not going to, and you'll see that."
"But he's also got an unbelievable offense, and talking to my father just last night, we're talking how [expletive] easy it's going to be to call a defense with an offense that controls the ball like ours controls it. Even in the Chargers game, my God, we were barely out there. I mean, they had 60 yards in the second half! So, it's excellent to be part of this organization."
"We're going to get our end handled. The improvement's there and guys are working hard. Again, it may not compare to somebody's preseason stats from 14 years ago, but really, we don't care."