Since he took the job as Cowboys defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan has said his unit was going to be great, but he never said when.
Through three preseason outings, the first team defense has had its share of struggles. They allowed the Broncos a 74-yard drive for a field goal in one series of work in the preseason opener. San Diego had 184 first-half yards and 17 points in Game 2. And despite the unit producing a turnover and limiting Minnesota to 10 points in the first half on Saturday, the Vikings moved the ball at will, racking up 216 yards over the first 30 minutes.
Knowing that these games are just pretend, he's continuing to teach his system and several starters have been out with injuries, Ryan still isn't expressing any worry.
"I know where we're supposed to be," Ryan said. "We may not be the '85 Bears or Baltimore Ravens, or last year's preseason defense, all the great ones, but we're perfect. We're where we want to be, we're doing fine, we're improving every week, communication's coming along, the players are getting healthy and we're going to be great."
Ryan has a point that things aren't always what they seem in the preseason. Last year the defense was the least of the Cowboys' concerns before the games of consequence began, and the unit ended up one of the worst in team history.
So the coach is nowhere close to panicking.
"I know right now we haven't looked like a thing of beauty on defense all the time," Ryan said. "But believe me, fellas, we're right where we want to be."