Jerry Jones has excused away a lot of things over the years.
He's made excuses for players, coaches, personnel decisions, Lindsay Lohan and all manners of losses. We were just kidding about America's favorite trainwreck, but the point is that Jones is very comfortable excusing away disappointments.
Which makes it notable that he's not willing to do it for the Cowboys defense this season. Injuries to Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and a slew of others give him far more ammunition than in plenty of other cases, but Double J just won't take the bait.
"There are teams in the league that don't have their pressure players. Spencer's having an outstanding year. Ware got a little dinged up early the other night, but he’s outstanding. We've got top corners, so you got your guys to put the pressure on them and you got the guys (on the back end)," Jones said on KRLD, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I'm just looking at fundamental defense out there. Our strength of our defense is where you're supposed to have it. We ought to be playing and can be playing better defense."
That sound you heard was a little sizzling on Rob Ryan's seat. Jones is exactly right about everything the Cowboys defense still has at its disposal. Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware have played at a very high level, Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne have had more good days than bad and Jason Hatcher and Josh Brent have both been excellent all season. That's a lot to work with even if Jay Ratliff doesn't get back to full strength.
Ryan doesn't have a perfect defense, but he's got a better one than he had last year and he doesn't have them playing appreciably better. They get put in bad spots by turnovers sometimes, but they don't respond to those situations with enough plays that swing the momentum in the other direction. And, week after week, there are breakdowns that lead to big plays for the other team and flaws that get picked apart without the proper adjustments.
Injuries don't explain that, not when the problems existed when the Cowboys were playing with a fuller deck. It's perfectly reasonable to expect more than the Cowboys have gotten from Ryan.
So is making a change if it doesn't arrive before the end of this season.