Rob Ryan takes blame for Cowboys' struggles on D

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Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan spent ample time last season telling us the Dallas Cowboys would be a whirling force on defense. Rob Ryan said a lot of things.

The Cowboys instead fell apart down the stretch. Let's be clear: Ryan's defense deserved a big chunk of the blame. His complicated 3-4 scheme was an improvement over the product Wade Phillips put on the field in 2010, but a season-ending loss to the New York Giants left Ryan's scheme exposed. He believes a normal offseason will help.

"The parts where I take the blame for was when there's confusion on the defense, and a lot of that was us not getting on the same page, even in training camp," Ryan told The Associated Press on Thursday. "Little details come back and hurt you when you're playing against a Super Bowl champion. That hurt, and then the fact that I think we lost a little bit of confidence in the back end, we weren't challenging receivers."

Ryan said last week he took over a "beaten down" defensive unit that had had its confidence shattered last season. His boasts were an effort to help his new players believe in themselves. That puts Ryan's consistent chatter in a different light, but too much bluster bit him in the end. Ryan believes a full offseason will make for better results this time around.

"You want to be best right off the bat, and you want to be multiple, that's what I like to do," Ryan said. "I think I'm smart, and I know I am, but unfortunately, I probably put a little too much in too early."

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @marcsesslernfl.

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