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Rob Ryan Says Cowboys Defense 'Beaten Down' When He Arrived

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan certainly isn't afraid of giving a colorful quote, and he gave ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon a whopper on Wednesday, when he said that the defense he inherited needed a boost of confidence:

"[The defense] had been beaten down so much that, in my opinion, I don't think they had the confidence to go forward," Ryan said.

While Ryan's bravado was entertaining, it didn't amount to much by the end of the year, as the Cowboys secondary was repeatedly gutted during the team's late-season collapse.

As a result, the team has spent most of the off-season trying to improve on that side of the ball, dropping big money for free agent CB Brandon Carr while moving up in the draft to select LSU CB Morris Claiborne.

The media and the TV cameras may continue to focus on Dallas' out-sized defensive coordinator, but it's the players themselves who will ultimately determine the team's fate in 2012.

For all the latest on the Cowboys offseason, stay tuned to the SB Nation Dallas storystream as well as Blogging The Boys.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.