We were treated to a jet stream of hot air from the Dallas Cowboys' defense last season. Primary culprit: Rob Ryan.
The message this time around is different. After the team failed to make the playoffs, nose tackle Jay Ratliff and teammates are adopting a more workmanlike approach.
"We're not going to sit here and talk about what we're going to do this year or all the expectations everyone else has for us," Ratliff told KTCK-AM, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I think the attitude for us this year needs to be, we're going to be quiet. To put it bluntly, we're going to shut up, not say a thing and do our jobs."
This doesn't sound like a Ryan brainchild, but we'll take it. The coach recently said he adopted a "beaten-down" gang when he hit Dallas, but Ratliff said the unit is "way more confident this year." That's been helped by a full offseason in a complex 3-4 scheme, which players had trouble learning on the heels of the lockout.
We're confident in the rebuilt defensive backfield. Brandon Carr has started all 64 games of his four-year pro career. Morris Claiborne should anchor this unit for years to come. The team addressed a visible weakness. It makes the season opener against the New York Giants (who dipped into shades of the run-and-shoot last season) a more compelling matchup.
In talking to the Star-Telegram, Ratliff fell into reverie, raving over how "aggressive" the defense had become, finally playing on the same page and "expecting great things."
Come back to earth, sir.
Ratliff reeled it in.