PALM BEACH, Fla. --No surprise that Jets head coach Rex Ryan praised his brother Rob's first season as Cowboys defensive coordinator.
He expects Rob's defense to get better in 2012 -- almost to the Jets' level.
"I'll be honest with you -- they've got a chance to be second in the league in defense," Rex quipped during the AFC coaches' breakfast Tuesday morning at the league meetings.
"(They) improved a touchdown a game over the previous season. I think that's impressive. That's under the radar. I think you get criticized because they assume you took over a top-rated defense. That wasn't the case."
The Cowboys did improve under Ryan, moving from 23rd in total defense (351.8 yards per game) and 31st in scoring defense (27.3 points per game) in 2010 to 14th (343.2) and 16th (21.7), respectively, in 2011.
There's still plenty of room for improvement. The Cowboys gave up 68 points to the Super Bowl champion Giants in two regular-season meetings, and they ranked 23rd in pass defense (244.1) -- prompting a quick acquisition of free agent cornerback Brandon Carr for $50 million.