NEW ORLEANS – If this was supposed to be a showdown between two coordinators, it was definitely a 'no contest.'
The much-anticipated matchup between Rob Ryan and Monte Kiffin didn't live up to the billing. Ryan did his best part with the Saints patricianly shutting down the Cowboys' passing attack, yielding just one catch to Dez Bryant and only 10 completions for Tony Romo.
Meanwhile, Kiffin's defense was smashed by Drew Brees and the Saints, who racked up 625 total yards, outgaining the Cowboys by 433 yards.
"That's not good ball," Kiffin said afterwards. "We just didn't play good ball. I called bad ball right there."
Without a doubt, the Cowboys are suffering from injuries on defense, and received another big blow Sunday night with Sean Lee leaving the game with a hamstring injury. His backup in the middle, Justin Durant, also left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. The Cowboys were already without Jason Hatcher, Morris Claiborne and J.J. Wilcox and while DeMarcus Ware did return from a quad injury, he appear to re-aggravate the injury late in the second quarter.
"I don't' want to hear about injuries and this and that," Kiffin said. "We have some young guys out there but there's no excuse. You still have to play better than that. This is the NFL. If you're in there, you have to play like a starter. That's not good."
When asked if Kiffin was surprised that Brees and the Saints ripped through the defense like that, Kiffin mentioned the Cowboys' week of preparation leading up to the game.
"Well we had a really good week in practice," Kiffin said. "It might not look like that. I'm just being honest with you. We had a really good Thursday practice. Believe it or not, if you watched our practice Friday, sometimes you don't stay focused. And we had a walk-through in the ballroom today. And they were really into it. But it certainly didn't look like that. It doesn't matter what you do in the ballroom or in practice, but you better play well on Sunday night. We didn't play very well. We didn't coach very well." [embedded_ad]
Kiffin even agreed with a question that wondered if the players might be losing confidence in 4-3 scheme.
"We have to get it back. No doubt about it," Kiffin said of confidence. "That's a big part of coaching -keeping the confidence back. You just have to start over and regroup. Get regrouped and organized."
That's a task that might be easier said than done. But at least the Cowboys have two weeks to work on it.