IRVING, Texas -- Rob Ryan wants critics of the Dallas Cowboys to know the defensive meltdowns at the end of the last two games are entirely his fault.
"And," he vowed Thursday, "I will get it fixed."
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said defensive coordinator Ryan and coach Jason Garrett began solving the problem "before the paint dried" following the latest collapse. Ryan said those changes include scaling back the game plan to avoid an information overload, instituting a new system of signaling plays from the sideline during the last two minutes and having the defense watch game films together instead of in smaller groups.
"We'll see how we do," Ryan said. "Adversity has hit our room, and we're ready to roll."
The Cowboys (7-6) who visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday night, are tied with the New York Giants for first place in the NFC East, and they're guaranteed of claiming the division if they win their last three games. A loss could cost them a trip to the playoffs.
Dallas currently is in a two-game slide that started when the defense allowed a screen pass to turn into a 52-yard touchdown in overtime against Arizona. The unit then allowed the Giants to score 15 points in the final 3:14 of a 37-34 loss.
Ryan held court in the Cowboys' locker room for more than 20 minutes Thursday, explaining everything that has gone wrong, why and what he's doing about it. He believes the defense has played well all but twice: in a blowout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and Sunday night against the Giants.
"I've got better players than everybody else, and that's just a fact," he said. "Are we playing perfect? No, but that doesn't mean our guys aren't giving effort, they aren't trying to get it right."
He said the unit's biggest weakness is at the end of halves, and he called two-minute situations its "Achilles' heel."
"That's on me," he said, adding that "communication has been a big part of it. Communication is easy when (things are) going slow and things are going right. But it's hard to get everybody in a no-huddle, (with) a lot of pressure going on, to get it done right. We have addressed it."
Ryan left no doubt that he remains confident in himself and his players.
"Confidence is something I have, and it comes from having better knowledge than anybody else," he said. "I tell my players I'm Sugar Ray Robinson. That's who I am. I'm the champ, and I always know I'm the best. I do. Now maybe nobody else in the media believes it, but I know the guys in the locker room do and I do, so whatever it is, hey, I'm the man who is in charge. I'm the man who will fix our problem."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press