ARLINGTON, Texas -- Blame Rob Ryan for the starting defense’s poor performance in the Cowboys' preseason loss to the Chargers on Sunday.
He’s practically begging for it.
“It’s all my fault on communication,” Ryan said after the 20-7 loss. “We’ll be fine. I put a little bit probably too much in right now if I had to look back. But I’m not looking back. I’m looking forward, so I really don’t give a crap.
“I think our guys will be fine. I know they will. They’re playing hard. It’s hard to go out there and execute against the No. 1 offense in football when you’re still thinking about calls and checks and things like that. To our guys’ credit, they’re playing hard and they’re playing physical. The rest of it will come.”
The Cowboys’ first-team defense particularly struggled in the passing game. San Diego starter Philip Rivers completed eight of 11 passes for 92 yards and a ridiculously easy touchdown.
Nobody covered tight end Randy McMichael on the 7-yard score in the opening minute of the second quarter. Cornerback Alan Ball and strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh doubled-teamed Vincent Jackson on a crossing route in the back of the end zone. Outside linebacker Anthony Spencer didn’t get out to the flat, where McMichael made the easy catch to cap the nine-play, 61-yard drive.
Whose fault was the coverage bust? Ball? Spencer? Sensabaugh?
None of the above, according to Ryan, who pulled a page out of Wade Phillips’ playbook by blaming himself for the players’ mental mistakes.
“That was all me. I screwed it up,” Ryan said. “Doubled 83, and it was something that we really hadn’t practiced that I was trying to put in during the game. Hell, I screwed it up. Turning a guy loose, hell, that was me turning a guy loose.”
Ryan, robbed by the lockout of an offseason to teach his scheme, is falling on the sword for trying to install too much of his scheme too soon. The problem is his defense doesn’t have much time to get it right.