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Rob Ryan: 'We're gonna play a helluva lot better'

IRVING, Texas – Rob Ryan made no guarantees, certainly not by his family standards.

The colorful Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator managed to express confidence entering Sunday night’s NFC East title game without uttering anything remotely inflammatory about the New York Giants. Mission accomplished.

Of course, Ryan would look like a fool if he talked trash about a team that put up 37 points and 510 yards in a win over the Cowboys less than a month ago. That was a performance by the Dallas defense that Ryan accurately describes as “atrocious” and “an embarrassment.”

“I know we’re gonna to play a helluva lot better, and that’s gonna be the biggest thing,” Ryan said. “I think when we execute, we’ve got a helluva defense. I don’t think anybody’s very good when they’re not executing or at the top of their game. In the championship game, you’ve got to be your best, and we will be. We can’t wait.”

That loss to the Giants is one of two games this season Ryan admits to being ashamed of, with the other being the 34-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. And he includes the first half of last week’s loss to the Eagles in the embarrassing category, although he claims the second half was more indicative of the caliber of defense he coaches.

Ryan has often boasted about having the best defensive talent – players and coaches – in the NFL. The Cowboys haven’t backed up that bold talk, but all in all, the Dallas defense has been above-average.

This is the ultimate opportunity for the Cowboys to prove they’re as good as their defensive coordinator thinks.

“The season is long from over,” said Ryan, whose family will attend the game at MetLife Stadium in hopes of celebrating a division title. “When it’s all said and done, by the end of the season, we’re all gonna know we’ve done a hell of a job.

“We took the 31st-ranked scoring defense, we’re 10th right now, but we’re gonna be better than that. But it’s not done. We’re ready to go. We’re going to be on point. And yeah, hell, I am proud about what we’ve done. Could we be better? Sure. You’ve got to execute. Usually veteran teams that are in systems like that execute every play. That’s what you need. Right now, we don’t have that. And we haven’t had it all year. But damn, it would be a great week to make sure we have it this week.”

Ryan expressed the most confidence during his Friday meeting with the media when asked what he has to prove in the highest-stakes game of his career as a defensive coordinator.

“If it comes down to me proving something, then we're gonna win, period,” Ryan said. “Because I'm gonna do it. That's the way it is.”