- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones is the source behind the firing of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan after last season.
Despite numerous injuries to the unit, Jones' opinion was that the defense under Ryan should have been better.
Well, after five weeks of the 2013 season, coordinator Monte Kiffin's defense is one of just four leaguewide that has allowed more than 2,000 yards (30th overall). The Cowboys' D is 28th in yards per game (409.2), 31st in passing yards allowed per game (326.40) and 22nd in points allowed per game (27.2).
In the last two weeks, Kiffin's group has given up 1,023 yards, while two quarterbacks (Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers) have thrown for a combined 815 yards with seven touchdown passes and two interceptions.
Jones, however, said he wants to give Kiffin some slack given who the defense faced on Sunday. The Cowboys allowed four Manning touchdown passes in a 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos at AT&T Stadium.
"Knowing what my expectations were playing Denver and playing against Peyton Manning coming in, I'm going to cut him some slack," Jones said of Kiffin. "I must tell you that I was expecting a high-scoring game and high-yardage game from Denver, and I knew we were going to have to match it. So I'm not (concerned)."
The Cowboys are playing without two defensive starters, Anthony Spencer (knee surgery) and Jay Ratliff (PUP list). They relegated linebacker Bruce Carter to bench status (though he played in a reserve role) and started a rookie safety, J.J. Wilcox. Due to injury, cornerback Morris Claiborne was moved from the starting lineup to the nickel package and Orlando Scandrick started.
Among the Cowboys' key healthy defensive players are DeMarcus Ware, considered an elite player at defensive end; defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, who played well at the start of the season; and cornerback Brandon Carr, who was signed before last season as a highly regarded free agent.
"He's a great player," linebacker Sean Lee said of Manning. "He made a ton of great plays. Defensively, we were just terrible. There is no way around it. We were just terrible across the board -- 51 points, unbelievable. We need to take a look at ourselves, visually and collectively, and find a way, because we let the team down."