Since 2005, Rex Ryan's defenses in Baltimore (as defensive coordinator) and with the New York Jets (as head coach) have always ranked within the top six in the league. Over that span, Rob Ryan's defenses have ranked in the top six only once (3rd with Oakland in 2006), and his defenses never ranked ahead of those of his twin brother. Last season with the Cowboys, Rob's defense ranked 14th (by yards allowed), while Rex's defense with the Jets ranked fifth.
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com wondered whether the offseason additions of cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne were enough to tip the scales (pun intended) in favor of the Rob Ryan's Cowboys defense this season. To find out, he asked 15 different NFL executives and scouts which of the two brothers they believe will have the better defense in 2012.
The answer: 12 of the 15 people polled thought the Cowboys will have the better defense in 2012. What stands out among the replies (which are all well worth reading, just follow the link above) is that many of the execs polled acknowledge the significant upgrade the Cowboys have made to their secondary, but still point to the Cowboys front seven as the true difference maker for Rob Ryan's defense.
Jeremiah hedges his bets a little in his summary:
I didn't expect such a landslide result in favor of Rob Ryan and the Cowboys' defense. The offseason additions of cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Claiborne have convinced the overwhelming majority of these executives and scouts that the Cowboys' defense will be greatly improved in 2012. The Jets supporters are basing their decision more on coaching and divisional opponents than the actual personnel on the field.
In my opinion, I believe these are both top-10 defenses in 2012. The Cowboys have the better defensive line and linebacker unit, but I give the Jets' cornerback duo the edge over the Cowboys' new additions. The safety position is a major concern for both teams. I would give the slight overall edge to the Cowboys because of their ability to get after the quarterback.
Any way you look at it, 12-3 is a strong vote of confidence in the Cowboys' offseason activities. And I'll take what a handful of NFL personnel have to say - even anonymously - over what the vast majority of media pundits have to say any day of the week. (Hat tip to IckesJb for the fanshot).