The question entering Sunday was if Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan could redeem himself after his defense was shredded for 34 points in the teams' ealier matchup. He would do better with his schemes but it wasn't enough.
Many folks will try to pin Sunday night's win-or-go-home loss to the New York Giants on Tony Romo. Those people are idiots.
Many others will place the blame squarely on Jason Garrett's shoulders. Those people are getting warmer.
But one thing is clear from watching Sunday night's debacle in the Meadowlands, and it's that the Dallas Cowboys just aren't what we thought they were, especially on defense.
Folks will try to say Rob Ryan is just a terrible defensive coordinator, and honestly, they might be on to something, but let's be fair here — a coach is only as good as his players.
And one thing that we had an idea of heading into Sunday night's game was proven to be disgustingly true as the game played out, and that's that the Cowboys just don't have a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Sean Lee showed he has the potential to be a great inside linebacker this season, and he was pretty darn good on Sunday night. Jay Ratliff is a monster on the defensive line, and he was pretty good too.
DeMarcus Ware is the Cowboys' best defensive player, but at times this season, including Sunday night, he had some boneheaded mistakes that cost his team dearly with stupid offsides penalties and the worst of all — lining up in the neutral zone.
That's it. No one else on that defense is an above average player.
Terence Newman made a mockery of the cornerback position, taking terrible angles, straight up whiffing as fullbacks hurdled over him and giving up big play after big play. Orlando Scandrick gave up the biggest play of the night when he let Victor Cruz get in front of him on what essentially amounted to a jump ball from Eli Manning on 3rd-and-medium for a big gain to basically put the game out of reach.
Gerald Sensabaugh picked up, then lost a fumble that probably would've resulted in a return for a touchdown. Luckily, the Giants missed a field goal on that drive and it didn't end up hurting the Cowboys on the scoreboard, but it certainly could've helped.
There were a lot of plays to be made by Ryan's crew on Sunday night, and not many were.
Is Rob Ryan as brilliant a defensive mind as his twin brother? Maybe not. But he can't work with a bare cupboard either. If the Cowboys want to be a better team in 2012 it'll have to start with a massive re-tooling of the defensive personnel.