The New Orleans Saints dominated the Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday night. The offense was record breaking good posting over 600 yards and picking up a single game record 40 first downs. In addition, the struggling running game and Marques Colston were able to get back on track. However, for as great as the offense was, we have seen performances like this, and it came against a Cowboys defensive unit that, putting it kindly, isn’t very good.
The real story is the job the defense did in Rob Ryan’s first game against the team that scapegoated him last season.Stopping the Cowboys on paper is not an easy task at all. The Cowboys offense is as prolific as any and has weapons galore. The Saints’ defense were not only able to contain them, but were able to shut them down.
Last year against this defense, Tony Romo was able to throw over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns while star receiver Dez Bryant was able to go for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns. This year Romo was only able complete 10 passes and throw for 128 yards (Mark Ingram had 145 yards rushing!). Meanwhile Dez Bryant was only able to muster one catch for 44 yards. In addition, the Cowboys were 0 for 9 on 3rd down conversions.
What Rob Ryan has been able to do with this defense is remarkable considering all the injuries that the Saints have sustained. Though the defense has played well all season, they have only really faced one prolific offense this season in the Patriots before the Cowboys game. This performance against the Cowboys is a transcendent one and surely has the Jerry Jones regretting his decision to oust Ryan.
The defense really seems to be coming into its own. It usually takes a team little over half the season for a defense to truly embrace and understand the nuances of a defense, especially one as intricate as Ryan’s.
And it was especially evident when the Saints had to play part of the game without Kenny Vaccaro with Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper already out without seeing a drop off. Ryan has been able to plug in backups everywhere and hasn’t missed a beat. The Saints are an offensive team, but the success of this team going forward will ultimately hinge more on Rob Ryan and his defense rather than the offense. And it seems, thus far, that Ryan has all the answers.